Billie Deen Gilbert of Brownwood passed away on Monday, October 28, 2013. He was born on October 28, 1935, in Brownwood, Texas, to Edgar Deen Gilbert and Bertha May Holt Gilbert. Bill spent all his early years in Brownwood, attending school and graduating from Brownwood High School in 1954. In 1955 he married his high school sweetheart, Nelda Joyce Wilson. Later that year, he joined the U.S. Air Force, taking his basic training in San Antonio and Air Police training in California. His first permanent station was the newly formed Abilene Air Force Base, later named Dyess Air Force Base. Bill served twenty years in the Air Force, retiring in 1975. During his military career, Bill served tours in Goose Bay Labrador and Viet Nam, as well as various bases in the United States. His last station was once again at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene. While in Abilene, Nelda began working for DOD Defense Logistics Agency and in that job they were able to see more of the world, living in The Azores and Panama before returning back to the United States. Nelda joined Bill in retirement in 1998, and they returned to Brownwood, moving into the Gilbert family home. Bill and Nelda were members of Austin Avenue Baptist Church. Bill and Nelda were blessed with four children: Bryant Eddie Gilbert, Doni Lea Gilbert Behney, Deena Joy Gilbert Canals, and Billie Deen Gilbert, Jr.
Bill is preceded in death by his wife of 57 years, Nelda, who passed away in November, 2012, as well as a daughter, Doni Lea Behney. He is also preceded in death by his parents; a brother-in-law, Franklin Smith; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Don Owen and Sue Wilson Owen; sister-in-law, Johnnie Wilson Thomas.
Bill is survived by his children; Bryant Eddie Gilbert, of Brownwood; daughter, Deena Joy Gilbert Canals, of Niceville, Florida; Billie Deen Gilbert, Jr. of Abilene, and son-in-law, Richard Behney of Burleson. In addition, he is survived by 9 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren, and his sister, Doris Smith of Burleson. Also surviving is sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Bennie Wilson Holt and Jerry Holt, of Fredericksburg,Texas; sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Dolores Wilson Pennington and Shelby Pennington, of Hobbs, New Mexico, and brother-in-law, William Thomas of Frisco, Texas. His is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.