COLUMBIA — Gary Filbert might have played a prominent role in many sports programs through the state, but his successes didn’t go to his head.
"He never thought of himself as being better than anybody because he had accomplished certain things,” Brent Filbert, his son, said. “He always recognized that everyone was equal.”
Mr. Filbert died Thursday, April 7, 2011, at his home in Columbia. He was 81.
Mr. Filbert was born on June 7, 1929, in St. Joseph to Harold Filbert and Fern (Taylor) Filbert.
After graduating from Benton High School, he attended and played basketball at MU. He served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he played sports for the San Diego Corps and served as a drill instructor during the Korean War.
Mr. Filbert maintained strong involvement in sports leadership roles. He coached basketball for 14 years at Mexico High School, where he was also a world history teacher. He also coached men’s basketball at Missouri Western State University for 14 years, and served as the executive director for the Missouri Show-Me State Games.
His wife, Glenda Filbert, said at one time he was trying to decide between the ministry and coaching.
“But the love of coaching — he couldn’t get away from it,” she said.
Brent Filbert remembered a situation where his father told him the most important people to keep happy were cooks, secretaries and janitors.
“He really thought everyone mattered and always brought out the best in everybody,” Brent Filbert said. “People just gravitated to him and wanted to accomplish things for him, and part of that was because of him being a great teacher and a great person.”
Mr. Filbert taught swim lessons in Mexico, Mo., and created St. Joseph’s first professional tennis tournament. He continued to play basketball throughout his life even after losing sight in his left eye in 2005.
Brent Filbert said his father was not the type of father to put a lot of pressure on his children or tell them they had to accomplish certain things.
“He could laugh and not take himself too seriously,” he said. “He was able to relate to people and recognize that everyone has weaknesses and makes mistakes.”
His wife said the two made many travels around the world together. During a visit to London they watched Wimbledon, and he played golf at St. Andrews in Scotland.
Mr. Filbert is survived by his wife, Glenda; seven children, Laura Zacher, Lisa Filbert, Preston Filbert II, Lydia Craft, Brian Filbert, Brent Filbert and Chris Boettcher; one sister, Margaret Ann Pickerel; one brother, Dick Filbert; numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and his chocolate labradoodle, Bella.
Three sons, Scott Taylor Filbert, Terry Dodson and Michael Dodson, died earlier.
A gathering for family and friends will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday, April 10, at Missouri United Methodist Church, 204 S. Ninth St.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, April 11, at the church.
Donations can be made to the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association for the Gary Filbert Scholarship Fund addressed to Tonya Mirts, 1104 N. Providence Rd., Columbia, MO 65201 or the Missouri United Methodist Church in Columbia.
Tributes can be left online at memorialfuneralhomeandcemetery.com.