Sara N. Smith Gilbert, age 85, resident of Phenix City, Alabama, transitioned to her Lord Jesus Christ on June 28, 2023 at her residence surrounded by her family. Her Memorial service will be at 11 am, Saturday, July 8, 2023 in the Chapel of Vance Brooks Funeral Home, 4048 Macon Road, Columbus, GA with the Reverend Jonathan Merritt officiating. The family will receive friends at the funeral home prior to the service on Saturday, July 8, 2023 from 10-11 a.m.
Sara, daughter of the late Arlie E. Smith and Velma Lewis Smith, was a retired medical office receptionist, bank teller, mother, and homemaker. She was a long time member of Edgewood Baptist Church where she served in the nursery and various church service projects. She is particularly remembered for her fierce, compassionate care her family and elderly friends and neighbors, providing for their needs despite her own declining health.
She graduated from Central High School in 1956 and married Robert Gilbert (Bob) in March 1958. His military career carried her to several Army bases where her plain spoken personality attracted lifelong friends from all over the world. Anyone who knew her felt loved and accepted by her. Her hilarious “Nanaisms” are written in the hearts and minds of her children and grandchildren, “‘Nana don’t like no whining!’ ‘I slept ‘till my head got hairy,’ ‘ You’re about an independent as a hog on ice,’ and ‘Smear my ears with jam and tie me to an ant bed!’’
She began attending church regularly when her children were young and took them and their friends to church and Vacation Bible School in her overloaded Vista Cruiser station wagon. She shared her new found faith in Jesus, reading the Bible nightly to her children and teaching children’s Sunday school.
Always learning, she bought a Singer sewing machine and a neighbor taught her to use it. Broken washing machines, dryers and vacuums were fun challenges for her to repair. Her African violets, spider plants, succulents and flower beds flourished with her growing knowledge of their care as her children grew older.
Sara was preceded in death by her parents, Arlie E. Smith and Velma Lewis Smith, her brother Robert Smith, and sisters, Vivian Gail Smith Perry, and Lydia Ann Smith Hansen.
She is survived by her husband of 65 years, Robert F. Gilbert, her daughters Carole Gilbert Tillman, and Mary Gilbert Holcomb, her sons Joseph H. Gilbert (Sandy), and Robert F. Gilbert Jr., 13 grandchildren, and 11 great grandchildren.
Special thanks to Alisha and Ashley of Gentiva Hospice and Sara’s life-giving, personal caregiver Judy Horne. Thank you for showing us how to care, love, and release her during this season.