In Memory


Mark Gilbert

Mark Gilbert, 61, of Silver Spring, Maryland, died May 16, at Tate Chesapeake Hospice House. He slipped away peacefully in his sleep to the accompaniment of his favorite jazz artist, John Coltrane, a symbol he would surely appreciate. Mark and his tenor saxophone were well-known in local clubs and concert venues. Mark’s was also a familiar face to university representatives conducting student financial aid business with the U.S. Department of Education.

Mark was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and spent his teen years in San Francisco. The man whose childhood music teacher complained he lacked dedication to his horn grew up to play for Presidents and accompany internationally-known artists. His accomplishments include three Presidential inaugural gigs, a seven-year stint backing up Gladys Knight and the Pips, and an appearance with The Four Tops at 1985’s Live Aid, the “global jukebox” organized to raise funds to alleviate Ethiopian famine. 
Mark shared the stage with artists as varied as Cab Calloway, The Dells, and Rootboy Slim. In his late teen years, Mark lived and gigged in Mexico with the tropical fiesta band from Vera Cruz, Los Flamers. His saxophone playing has been a fixture at D.C.-area festivals. 

For all of his high-profile gigs, Mark’s most appreciated performance was a flawless solo rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In” at his father-in-law’s funeral, performed in a snowstorm while standing graveside in bitter New England cold.
Mark has played and/or recorded with D.C.-area jazz groups Chopteeth, Vector, Locura, Chainsaw Jazz, Maria Rodriguez y sus Magnificos, Teresa Gunn group, Eric Felten Jazz Orchestra and Windmill Saxophone Quartet. He was nominated for world music instrumentalist at the Washington Area Music Awards (WAMMIEs) in 2010, 2011, and 2012 and helped Chopteeth lay claim to 10 group WAMMIES.

The U.S. Department of Education is where Mark toiled at his day job, helping to ensure the smooth operation of the federal student financial assistance programs for 33 years, before retiring in 2010. It was through that employment Mark met his wife of nearly 19 years, attorney and writer Carol Bengle Gilbert. Their personal relationship began during an aborted business trip. En route to an administrative hearing in Alabama, Mark and Carol were waylaid at their stopover destination with news the hearing was canceled. Having 10 hours to kill before the next contract flight home, they toured Nashville; in due time, they married and became parents to their three cherished children: Andy, 18 (globe-trotting mathematician); Cindy, 15 (actress); and Amy, 13 (dancer.) 

Mark earned his Bachelor’s in Spanish at the University of District of Columbia and retained fluency in Spanish, French, and Portuguese throughout his life.
In his later years, with a full silver beard and ample midsection, Mark was periodically mistaken for Santa Claus on the #15 Ride-On Bus and in downtown Silver Spring during the holiday season.

Besides his immediate family, Mark is survived by his mother Ann Amyes and step-father Joe Amyes; step-mother Lois Gilbert; sister Linda Gilbert (Tom Romano); brother David Gilbert (Kimi Masui); and sister Susan Gilbert, all of California. Mark’s father Stanley Gilbert predeceased him.

A memorial service and jam session will be held this summer, date TBA. The family requests memorial contributions be made to Tate Chesapeake Hospice House, Philanthropy Department, 445 Defense Highway, Annapolis, MD 21401 or MusiCares, 3030 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90404.



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05/17/13 11:59 AM #1    

Ann Pfeiffer (Franklyn)

Mark was a great guy, so much creativity!!  Loved working in the theatre with him.  My prayers to his family & friends that they find peace & comfort with his music and his memories.

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