Betty Jean Dicken Gilbert

Published 2:39 pm Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Betty Jean Dicken Gilbert, 88, passed away Sunday, April 20, 2014, in a nursing facility in Hammond, following several years of declining health.

She was born in Jackson, Miss., on Dec. 5, 1925, and graduated from Forest Hill High School in Jackson. She attended Mississippi College in Clinton, where she was selected as a Freshman Beauty. It was there she met her future husband and lifelong mate, John L. Gilbert, who was just home from serving his country in World War II. They married in 1947.

Betty gave birth to and raised four children and spent her life as a perfect example of a Godly mother and minister’s wife. She and John L. also “adopted” several other children they met while traveling on the foreign mission field. Fatima Lima Garcia is one example. She was a teenager in Brazil when they met her and invited her to the States to live with them. They provided her with a college education. Following her graduation, she returned to Brazil to serve as a missionary/minister there.

The Gilberts spent most of their ministry in Louisiana, moving to Franklinton in 1980, where Betty was active in First Baptist Church.

Betty was often described as the perfect pastor’s wife, educating about missions, teaching Sunday school and playing piano or singing in the choirs of churches John L. pastored. Anybody who ever met her could say that God had never put a kinder, gentler or more caring person on earth. The term “Sweet Spirit” does not do justice to this loving child of God.

“For who can find a virtuous woman, she is worth far more than rubies. . . Her children arise and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praises her.”

She is survived by her husband, the Rev. John L. Gilbert of Hammond; four children, Peter Gilbert, (Cheryl) of Fayetteville, Ark., David J. Gilbert (Barbara) of Bryson City, N.C., Mark Gilbert (Shelia) of Amite and Cindy Ferrara (David) of Albany; 14 grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; many nieces and nephews; and a multitude of brothers and sisters in the ministry.

She was preceded in death by her parents, John Brock Dicken and Bessie Johnson Dicken; three sisters, Edna Brock Whitehurst, Sarah D. Johnson and Dorothy D. Maloney, and a brother, John B. Dicken Jr, all from Jackson; and a grandson, Seth Lavigne of Albany.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to First Baptist Church of Franklinton.

Visitation will be held Thursday, April 24 at First Baptist Church of Franklinton from 1 p.m. until time for the funeral service at 3 p.m.

Crain Funeral Home of Franklinton is assisting the family with arrangements.