It is with great regret and sadness that I write this. With a heavy heart, and tears streaming I write about a great person and friend who has left us to walk among the great heroes of history whom she loved.
Colleen “Hester” Gilbert was bigger than life itself. She loved life and had a smile for everyone. She was always eager to help new re-enactors get involved in 18th century living history.
In August 2007 I had a chance to do an in depth article with Hester for September’s Re-Enactor of the Month. It is especially well worth reading at this sad time. Colleen talked about her views and her desire to bring a realistic face to the 18th century.
The last time I saw Hester was just last weekend at Fort Boonesborough’s Women on the Frontier. She made the long (4-5 hour) drive just for the day - to be part of Women on the Frontier. She decided to “day trip” this event so she wouldn’t have to board her dog Toes. She was planning to leave this week for an event at Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York.
“Do you think the east coast is up to Hester,” she quipped. It is their loss at Fort Ticonderoga that they will never find out. The car was packed, the dog had been boarded and Hester was ready to set out. She passed away of an apparent heart attack in the drive way, with the car door still open.
Back in December Hester and I had made a pact over a cup of coffee at the Salt River Longrifles Trade Show in Lawrenceburg, KY. Again she had made the long drive - just to be with her friends. One of her favorite events was Koh Koh Mah and Foster put on near Kokomo, Indiana by her good friend Bob Auth. She had been trying to get us there for several years. So last December we compared schedules for 2008 and made a pact. We would be at Koh Koh Mah and she would be at Women on the Frontier. We sealed the deal with a hug.
Hester kept up her half of the bargain. And the good Lord willing I will be taking photos at Koh Koh Mah this year. And Hester will be looking down from heaven at all the fun... and laughing.
It is hard to write these words. I will instead have to rely on the old adage - a picture is worth a 1000 words. And I now find that I will have to let my photos say the rest.
To her mother and her brother and those in her extended family and friends, our heart felt condolences go out to you. Colleen Gilbert will be missed. To those of us who saw her weekend after weekend from Manskers to New Boston and places in between - life will never be the same without Hester.
So dear friend, 3 Huzzahs and a farewell 21 gun salute.