1933 ~ 2021
Service Date January 18, 2021
Memorials: In lieu of flowers, please consider contributing to one of the following charities:
The Women’s Center, 1723 Hemphill, Fort Worth, Texas 76110
Humane Society of North Texas, 1840 East Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth, Texas 76103
SafeHaven of Tarrant County, 1010 N. Center Street, Arlington, Texas 76011
OU Law School, “Memorial Scholarship Honoring Arch Gilbert”, P.O. Box 258856, OKC OK 73125-8856
Arch Burton Gilbert was born on November 21, 1933 in Fairfax, Oklahoma, the only child of Raymond and Thelma Gilbert. He spent his early years in Fairfax, where he watched movies at the theater owned by his Tall Chief relatives and played the tuba in the school band, including on one occasion for President Harry S. Truman when he traveled through Oklahoma. After his father returned from World War II naval service, the family relocated to Eufaula, Oklahoma to open a bakery. As a boy, Arch worked at the bakery, keeping a baker’s early morning hours and delivering donuts to businesses and restaurants before school. All his life Arch kept these early hours, his father’s hard work ethic and a fondness for pies and donuts.
Arch excelled academically and was high school Class President, Co-Valedictorian (with his life long friend, Don Wilson), and Oklahoma State Debate Champion. He then attended Oklahoma University, earning his undergraduate degree and law degree in 6 years. As an undergraduate, Arch was a member of Phi Eta Sigma and Phi Delta Theta, and he was named to Phi Beta Kappa honor society his junior and senior years. In law school, Arch served on the Board of the Oklahoma Law Review and was a member of the Order of the Coif and Phi Alpha Delta. He graduated from OU Law School with honors and ranked first in his class. However, it is indisputable that Arch’s most important accomplishment at OU was meeting and marrying Jo Anne Dollins, his loving wife of 63 years, who was Arch’s partner in all adventures, including OU sports, hunting and fishing, travel around the world and the symphony and opera.
Following his graduation in 1957, Arch served as a United States Air Force JAG (Judge Advocate General) at Carswell Air Force Base, while attending SMU at night to earn a Masters of Laws degree (LLM) in taxation. Arch and Jo remained in Fort Worth after completion of his service, where he practiced law and wrote several law books, including a 6-volume guide to Texas Practice and guides to Texas estate law. Arch’s razor sharp mind and entrepreneurial nature also led him to form and operate multiple companies in areas ranging from oil and gas to medical care. He always conducted business with the highest degree of integrity and cared deeply about his business partners and employees, often with at least one of his office cats in his lap. Arch was forever grateful for the education he received at OU and the opportunities it created for him, and he and Jo attended OU football and women’s basketball games as long as he was physically able. He was a lifetime member of the University of Oklahoma Alumni Association, served on the Dean’s Leadership Circle and endowed several Professorship and Scholarships at OU.
Family, work and his vast network of friends accumulated through his life remained Arch’s passion through his final years as he fought bravely against Parkinson’s Disease to remain involved in the world for as long as possible. Arch was a devoted son, a loving and devoted father to his daughters Shannon Moten and Devon Vrana, a hunting buddy, business partner and mentor to his son-in-law Paul Vrana, and a doting grandfather to Max and Bella Vrana and Sophie and Davis Moten. Arch is also survived by his devoted assistant of more than 20 years, Blair Tillery, who became his close friend, and by his faithful, compassionate and irreplaceable care giver of more than 2 years, Donald Deshauteurs, to whom Arch’s family is eternally grateful.
Arch passed away on the morning of January 18, 2021, but his memory will live on joyfully in the many lives he has touched with his kindness, intelligence, generosity and legendary sense of humor.