Obituary of Mary Jo Gilbert
Niskayuna-Mary Jo Gilbert, 90, of Niskayuna, died Tuesday, March 29, 2016 at Ellis Hospital.
Mary Jo Gilbert "Jo" was born to Harrie S. and Marion M. Taylor in Cleveland, OH, where she was baptized into the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ. During her senior year of high school at the outset of WWII, she worked in a defense plant as an analytical chemist and served as a certified Red Cross nurse's aid. She received both her BA degree (1947) and MS degree (1948) in analytical chemistry from Duke University. She was a member of Phi Kappa Delta, Phi Beta Kappa and White Duchy. She met her future husband, Alfred, at Duke while he was studying for his PhD in organic chemistry, and she studying for her Master's Degree in Analytical Chemistry. Shortly after graduation and receiving their degrees, they were married in Duke Chapel on June 26, 1948. When Al was employed by General Electric Company in Schenectady, NY, Mary Jo and Al moved to Schenectady in 1949. Mary Jo served as a nurse's aid at the old City Hospital, caring for polio patients. She was a very active member of the former Union Street Christian Church, and more recently, of Emmanuel Friedens Church, where she served as Financial Secretary for many years. She was an active member of P.E.O. and of the Brush and Palette Art Group. She enjoyed painting in all media and won several awards for her art work. When her children became older, she took up horseback riding and skiing as hobbies. In order to combine staying home to raise a family of three, Chris, Greg and Debbie, and doing volunteer work, Mary Jo became interested in producing braille for the blind. After a year of studying, she was certified in 1964 by the Library of Congress as a Braille Transcriber. Certification in the Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics and Science was awarded by the Library of Congress in 1983, following a rigorous course of study. When her children were grown, Mary Jo worked for 18 years for the New York State Department of Educational Testing as a Braille Transcriber, producing in Braille all Regents examinations used by the blind students throughout New York State. After retirement from New York State Department of Educational Testing in 1987, she was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Braille Association, where she served six years as the chairman of the Tactile Graphics Committee, four years as Treasurer of NBA and 10 years as Parliamentarian to the Board of Directors. Her specialties were tactile illustrations and tactile storybooks for children. After leaving the Board of NBA, Mary Jo transcribed civil service examinations for the New York State Department of Civil Service. As a member of Northeastern New York Braille Volunteers, she has transcribed for the National Braille Association Braille Technical Tables Bank, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and local school children. She and her husband, Al, were founding members of the Glen Eddy Retirement Community, where they have lived since its opening in 2001. As a resident, Mary Jo served on the Residents' Council, as chairman of the Dining Committee, and on the Information Systems Committee and Building and Grounds Committee. She was an active member of the Glen Eddy Village Green Committee, which was dedicated to establishing an innovative nursing home on the Glen Eddy site. She especially enjoyed the Glen Eddy pool, her patio garden, and the camaraderie of the Glen Eddy "Breakfast Club" (8 to 9 a.m.). In retirement, Al and Jo enjoyed for 20 years their harborside suite in Maine; revisited a number of times the "crow's nest" on Ocracoke Island, NC, where the young family had spent their summers; delighted in Springtime with redbud and dogwood in the Shenandoah Valley; were amazed by the rhododendron in the mountains of western North Carolina; and participated in 34 plus Elderhostels.
Survivors include her husband, Alfred, of 67 years; and two sons and their spouses, Christopher (Karen) of Alloway, NJ and Gregory (Sonia) of Port St. Lucie, FL; five grandchildren, Chevonne, Eliza, Rebecca, Stella, Kim; and two great-grandchildren, Knya and Ayden. She is also survived by a sister, Nancie Jane Taylor Irvin of Chambersburg, PA; a nephew, Grant Irvin (Kirsten); and a cousin, Donald Povejsil. Mary Jo was predeceased by her daughter, Deborah Elizabeth Planter; her grandson, Zachary Gilbert; her brother-in-law, Oscar Green Gilbert; her sister-in-law, Ruth Gilbert; and her brother-in-law, Glenn Irvin.