Horace M. Gilbert: 1862 - 1934
Marion Richey Gilbert: 1862 - 1951
Born in 1862 in Geneseo, Illinois, H.M. Gilbert was raised in a family dedicated to the occupation of farming. Likewise, Marion Richey, a native of Lasalle County, Illinois, was also of prominent farming background.
The two met while attending Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, in the class of 1885. Mr. Gilbert obtained Liberal Arts and Veterinary Science degrees and just three years later was bestowed a Master of Arts degree from his alma mater. When his school days ended, Mr. Gilbert took up the agricultural life. He owned a corn and hog ranch and quickly became a well-known stock farmer in Illinois.
H.M. and Marion were married in 1892. After five years of marriage and three children, they moved west to the developing fertile soils of the Yakima Valley. They came by train and brought livestock to help establish a farm. The family chose to build their home near north Yakima to be closer to cultural interests. Mrs. Gilbert managed the family’s 20 acre orchard while Mr. Gilbert developed land in the lower valley.
The Richey and Gilbert Company formed in 1897 as a partnership between Mr. Gilbert and his father-in-law. It had large investments in commercial fruit production and an extensive interest in production real estate. The Richey and Gilbert Company is credited for its help in establishing important infrastructure in the Yakima area.
Mr. Gilbert was a founding member and president of the Tieton Water Users Association . He was also the fifth president of the Washington State Horticulture Association and a Trustee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1929. Mr. Gilbert was the first president of the Central Bank of Toppenish.
Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert were very active in community affairs and traveled extensively throughout the world. In 1913, their travels to the Orient led Mr. Gilbert to be the first to study the Asian export potential of Yakima apples.
Mrs. Gilbert taught high school and was passionately involved in many cultural activities such as theatre and music. She was instrumental in building Yakima’s YWCA. Mrs. Gilbert was a member of DAR, an early president of the Woman’s Club (which later joined with the Century Club), initiated the “Talent Night” lecture series, and was an early advocate of women’s suffrage.
Together, Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert were very involved in the Congregational Church. They loved the Northwest for its countless opportunities and contributed greatly to general improvement and prosperity of the community as a whole.
The H.M. and Marion Gilbert Memorial scholarship was established by their family to assist young people exhibiting entrepreneurial characteristics.