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Rose Gilbert, nonagenarian Calif. teacher, dies

  • Associated Press
  • December 18, 2013 - 1:00 PM

LOS ANGELES — Longtime Los Angeles school teacher Rose "Mama G" Gilbert has died at age 95, just 10 months after retiring.

Gilbert died Monday night, the principal's office at Palisades Charter High School confirmed. The school's flag was lowered Tuesday.

"As you all know, her generosity and lasting impact on generations of students is truly legendary," said Palisades Charter High School executive director and principal Pam Magee in an email to faculty. Gilbert taught at the school from the day it opened in 1961.

In her classroom, Gilbert shared her passion for poetry and literature to more than five generations of students.

She told The Associated Press in February that she didn't want to leave but decided to do so before she got too old — she taught for the Los Angeles Unified School District for 63 years.

Gilbert, who was inspired by her first grade teacher, started teaching in the 1940s, took a break and then returned to the classroom in 1956.

She joined the Palisades staff in 1961.

No one knew when she retired if she was the nation's oldest teacher, but there was no doubt she was among the most senior.

"(Palisades Charter High School) is fortunate to have been blessed with her dedication, passion, and tenacity for more than 50 years. Every day that I encountered Mama G, I was inspired to be a better educator and person, and I know that she had the same impact on many of you," Magee said in her email.

Gilbert kept teaching in 1987 when her wealthy developer husband died and left her a fortune.

Sam Gilbert died four days before he was to be indicted on federal racketeering and money-laundering charges in connection with his business activities.

Rose Gilbert has spent much of his money on education. She funded scholarships for high school and college students and donated a pool complex, auditorium and small theater to the high school.

Magee said the scheduled Dec. 19 dedication of a refreshed gym that she made possible could be changed.

A memorial celebration of her life will be held at the school after the winter break, the principal said.

© 2014 Star Tribune