“Ole Arn”: A Life & Times

January 22

Someone has a good eye for some great photos — not you as I remember. ~ Bob Gilbert, retired Federal bureaucrat shriveling up in Sun City Grand, 12-2011

We’ve lost another long time friend. Bob “Ole Arn” Gilbert died this month making him the second lost member of the five guys who golfed together every Sunday morning for 25 years or so in the Washington, D.C. area. Arn retired to Arizona before we retired to Minnesota 21 years ago, so we haven’t had the opportunity to get together much since the “old days”. This photo was from his visit to Alexandria in 2009 . . .

One of things I like about looking at pictures when you’re young and also meeting back with old friends you haven’t seen in a long time is, for me, it’s a glimpse of who I was. ~ Lea Thompson

Robert John Gilbert – Bob – passed away peacefully January 6, 2023. Born June 22, 1940. Grew up Melrose, MA – aka “Hockey Town”. Through pond skating at a young age, his love for hockey was firmly established. Proud member of the Greater Boston League Hockey Championship team. Voted to All-Star team as a stalwart defenseman. After high school, worked in insurance industry, but chose to enter the Army Reserve Program. Went on to work for Blue Cross/ Blue Shield in computer sciences and later went on to become government administrator for Federal Home Loan Bank Board. At the conclusion of his career, he and his wife, Diane, moved to AZ; building their dream home in Surprise. After her demise, Bob chose to move to Sun City West. Bob is survived by his devoted son and daughter in law, Casey and Shannon Gilbert, his loving daughter, Erin Gilbert, and his dedicated sister Elizabeth (Betty) Gilbert, her supportive life partner, John (Jake) Keough, and his most cherished grandchildren, Calvin, Katey and Megan. Bob was a kind and generous man who lived life to the fullest. Forever Loved and Forever Missed. Service in his honor: Saturday, January 21 @ 10a – Camino Del Sol: 13738 W. Camino Del Sol, Sun City West, AZ 85375 In lieu of flowers, we ask that you make a contribution to Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation.

Arnold Palmer is the biggest crowd pleaser since the invention of the portable sanitary facility. ~ Bob Hope

[Ole Arn got his nickname from being the oldest guy in our golf group, just like Arnie Palmer late in his career . . . ]

Fan the sinking flame of hilarity with the wing of friendship; and pass the rosy wine. ~ Charles Dickens

[I can’t remember the date (among many things I can’t remember), but it was fine dining by the group w/spouses at a fine restaurant (can’t remember the name) in Tysons Corner, Virginia . . . ]

Golf, the ultimate avoidance activity, a game so nonsensically difficult, so pointless, so irrational, so time-consuming, golf, could only possibly stand for Get-Out-Leave-Family. ~ Jerry Seinfeld

[The boys: Dan Funkhouser (Danny), Jim Brown (JB), Bob Gilbert (Ole Arn), me, Mark Brown (Marcus, also JB’s brother) . . . ]

Golf is a game that needlessly prolongs the lives of some of our most useless citizens. ~ Bob Hope

President Eisenhower has given up golf for painting. It takes fewer strokes. ~ Bob Hope

Marriage: a friendship recognized by the police. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

[The significant others: Ruth Ann (JB), Ruthie (me), and Diane (Ole Arn)]

To like and dislike the same things, that is what makes a solid friendship. ~ Sallust

[Jack (I believe, and believe was Danny’s cousin), Danny, Me, and Arn somewhere in West By God Virginia, as I recall, on a date lost in the ethers of time . . . ]

Friendship is a wildly underrated medication. ~ Anna Deavere Smith

[I believe here Arn is explaing the principles of String Theory to Danny . . . ]

I’ll stick to finding the funny in the ordinary because my life is pretty ordinary and so are the lives of my friends—and my friends are hilarious. ~ Issa Rae

[I believe this was at a Department of Labor (DOL) golf tournament of uncertain date. What I learned from that experience was to never again volunteer to run a golf tournament. (JB, Arn, Danny, and DOL buddy, Lyle Brown)]

The ball retriever is not long enough to get my putter out of the tree. ~ Brian Weiss

[Playing with the boys, I shot the best 9-hole score of my life. The scorecard appears to be from Herndon Golf Club in Virginia . . . ]

The shortest distance between any two points on a golf course is a straight line that passes directly through the center of a very large tree. ~ Confucius

Nonchalant putts count the same as chalant putt. ~ Henry Beard

[And this is at Goose Creek Golf Course in Leesburg, Virginia, our principal course over the years . . . ]

If you really want to get better at golf, go back and take it up at a much earlier age. ~ Tom Mulligan

[In later years we determined we were entitled to a fancy lunch a week or so before Christmas. We’d go to work and then sneak out of the office for the rest of the day at an appropriate time. This appears to be from the Capital Grille on Pennsylvania Avenue in 1992, lurking in the middle distance is the Department of Labor building . . . ]

There is nothing like puking with somebody to make you into old friends. ~ Sylvia Plath

A good friend will always stab you in the front. ~ Oscar Wilde

[Arn was a source of endless entertainment for the boys. As noted in his obituary, he played hockey which yielded lifelong knee pain. I believe he had several operations to no avail. He did not display any maladies when he walked, but he always had to ride when we golfed. He would seek chiropractors, acupuncturists, bee stingers, sensory deprivation tank treatments, et al. And each such adventure came with a funny story . . . ]

When your shot has to carry over a water hazard, you can either hit one more club or two more balls. ~ Henry Beard

[The next year, 1993, we fine dined at the Willard Hotel, which at the time was not known as a meeting place for insurrectionists . . . ]

You should always throw a club ahead of you so that you don’t have to walk any extra distance to get it. ~ Tommy Bolt

[This was fine dining old gentlemen style – leather chairs, wood paneled walls, post-dining cognacs and cigars. What’s not to like?]

Doing those president jokes and golf shit. It scares me. ~ Eddie Murphy

[A well-stocked bar, suitable for the distinguished gentlemen of taste . . . ]

Shall we repair to the smoking room? ~ Danny

Ruthie & I visited Diane and Bob in Arizona

What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well. ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupeery

[This occurred some time between our retirement and Arn’s visit to Minnesota, meaning between 2001 and 2009. I noticed immediately they did not need a Toro to mow their lawn . . . ]

[How Arn met Diane was another story of unique singularity. Arn was the first (and only) person I know to have used an In Search Of (ISO) dating site. He used the ISO section of either the Washington Post or the Washingtonian Magazine. After posting his ad, he was astonished that every day (for weeks) he would receive dozens of responses in the mail. Washington has long been noted as lonely town because so many single people arrive from all over the world for government or government contractor jobs. Initially, he could reject a significant portion of them as being GU (geographically undesirable). For all the rest he was always amazed that respondees (often sending pictures) were attractive, in professional positions, and making good money. He was like a kid in a candy store. His arrangements (and I don’t know if it was kind of standard) were to meet the prospects for high tea. Apparently that meant it wasn’t really a date and no follow up was necessary. He said he met several very nice women on these occasions. Then he met Diane, and that sealed the deal . . . ]

Tis the privilege of friendship to talk nonsense, and to have her nonsense respected. ~ Charles Lamb

[We remember their wedding was in 1992, because they had an artist there doing caricatures . . . ]

The rules of survival never change, whether you’re in a desert or in an arena. ~ Bear Grylls

A desert is a place without expectation. ~ Nadine Gordimer

Sadly, it’s much easier to create a desert than a forest. ~ James Lovelock

[The highlight of desert mornings – when the coyotes check out the neighborhood . . . ]

Ole Arn visited us in Minnesota in 2009

Any celebration meal to which guests are invited, be they family or friends, should be an occasion for generous hospitality. ~ Julian Baggini

[With grandson Tommy, who was staying with us at the time, we picked Arn up at MSP in July 2009. He came alone as he and Diane had tried a few times before only to have to cancel because of Diane’s severe health issues. This time she told Arn he should go by himself . . . ]

Ultimately, what we’re trying to do for our customers or our guests is create magical travel experiences. ~ Nathan Blecharczyk

[A special treat for Arn before heading up to Alexandria. Our friends Kathy and Will Skadsberg offered a cruise on Lake Minnetonka. Here Arn meets Kathy I believe at the Wayzata pier . . . ]

To buy very good wine nowadays requires only money. To serve it to your guests is a sign of fatigue. ~ William F. Buckley, Jr.

[Will ready to pilot the boat . . . ]

The number of guests at dinner should not be less than the number of the Graces nor exceed that of the Muses, i.e., it should begin with three and stop at nine. ~ Marcus Terentius Varro

[Hail, hail, the gangs all here . . . ]

My only regret in life is that I didn’t drink enough Champagne. ~ Robert Noecker

[Lord Fletcher’s on Lake Minnetonka, where people go to see and be seen . . . ]

Give me wine to wash me clean of the weather-stains of cares. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nothing makes the future look so rosy as to contemplate it through a glass of Chambertin. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book? ~ David Attenborough

[Tommy on the left; believe it’s Skadberg’s grandson Will on the right . . . ]

Our people, though capable of strong and durable feeling, were not demonstrative in their affection at any time, least of all in the presence of guests or strangers. ~ Charles Eastman

[Will explaining to Arn the finer points of evading game wardens on the water . . . ]

Never have children, only grandchildren. ~ Gore Vidal

[Thus, the grandchild . . . ]

It’s okay if you finish cooking something easy after your guests arrive – some dishes must be prepared a la minute, as chefs say. Just remember to keep talking. ~ Ted Allen

[Kathy was running the figures to make sure we had enough gas to get back to shore . . . ]

I like when guests come over early and we chop veggies and talk and play music. ~ John Stamos

Of the many guests we welcomed to the Mickey Mouse Club, my absolute favorites were the Lennon Sisters. ~ Annette Funicello

[Arn and Kathy discuss possible escape routes from the game wardens . . . ]

I can certainly see that you know your wine. Most of the guests who stay here wouldn’t know the difference between Bordeaux and Claret. ~ Basil Fawlty

[Yup, I think we nailed it. ~ Kathy]

Age is just a number. It’s totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine. ~ Joan Collins

[Navigating a channel . . . ]

Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle. ~ Paul Coelho

[As we begin to close our tour of Lake Minnetonka . . . ]

Penicillin cures, but wine makes people happy. ~ Alexander Fleming

[Lady of the Lakes tour boat . . . ]

How inappropriate it is to call this planet Earth, when clearly it is Sea. ~ Arthur C. Clarke

There is no better tool or equipment you can have on board than a well-trained crew. ~ Larry Pardey

Land was created to provide a place for boats to visit. ~ Brooks Atkinson

When your life is moving too fast and you find yourself in chaos, introduce yourself to each color of the sunset. ~ Christy Ann Martine

[A shout again to Kath & Will for the ride . . . ]

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. ~ Ernest Hemingway

You get the feeling that many of my guests feel that the French language gives them entry into a more cultivated, more intelligent world, more highly civilised too, with rules. ~ Bernard Pivot

[We’re in Alexandria now, at Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center on beautiful Lake Darling . . . ]

I’m a fan of creating the mood and vibe with flowers, candles, and music. I love making my guests feel like it’s not formal and they can relax in my home. ~ Karen Elson

In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take. ~ Lewis Carroll

A gourmet meal without a glass of wine just seems tragic to me somehow. ~ Kathy Mattea

[Lunching in Arrowwood overlooking Lake Darling . . . ]

You can. You should. And if you are brave enough to start, you will. ~ Stephen King

[Visting the famed Darling-Carlos Bridge. Here looking south over Lake Darling . . . ]

Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages. ~ Louis Pasteur

[Little Darling to be specific . . . ]

Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together. ~ Elizabeth Taylor

[Then crossed the roadway to look north over Lake Carlos . . . ]

I feel that when you take the responsibility to host something, it is your job to make sure that all your guests are taken care of equally. ~ Yolands Hadid

[In our home on Lake Darling with Ruthie and Tom admiring some kind of fish . . . ]

Wine is bottled poetry. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

[Of course, no trip to Alexandria is complete without a visit to Big Ole . . . ]

I love everything that’s old, – old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine. ~ Oliver Goldsmith

Age appears best in four things: old wood to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read. ~ Francis Bacon

In the end we’re all Jerry Springer Show guests, really, we just haven’t been on the show. ~ Marilyn Manson

[A highlight for anyone, Arn as well, was a visit to a place that advertised both bait and fresh fudge . . . ]

Decor sets the stage for any party, and it also gives a great indication to your guests as to how much effort you’ve put into hosting them within your home. ~ Rachel Hollis

[Unfortunately, Three Havens General Store has gone the way of the Great Awk . . . ]

Either give me more wine or leave me alone. ~ Rumi, circa 1200’s

[I will always remember this as one of the great days of my life. As hosts, we wanted to show our out-of-state guest the excitement that is Alexandria, Minnesota. We went to Carlos Creek Winery where Arn ordered a libation . . . ]

When it’s a live performance, anything can happen. ~ Rene Angelil

[The winery has a small outside performance stage where musicians play whenever the weather is amenable. As I recall, on this day the scheduled performers could not make it. Apparently a call went out to some locals who started to show up one at a time. People from the area will recognize Tom Mulder, Erik Schultz, Al Lieffort, Bruce Kelly and Annie O’Flynn. As I told them all later, they were all really on their A-games. The music was great and Arn kept looking around saying, “I can’t believe it. There’s nobody here to hear this!”]

Nothing beats a live performance. Nothing. ~ Jonathan Demme

The adrenaline of a live performance is unlike anything in film or theater. I can see why it’s so addictive. ~ Gwyneth Paltrow

[Annie sitting with Arn so he doesn’t get over excited . . . ]

One of the things I love about music is live performance. ~ Yo-Yo Ma

[The Grammy winners on that day: Tom, Al, Bruce, Erik, and Annie . . . ]

Retirement means no pressure, no stress, no heartache… unless you play golf. ~ Gene Perret

[Then it was time to take Ole Arn out to the Alexandria Golf Club, always as beautifully maintained as it appears here. This is Arn teeing off on Hole No. 4 . . . ]

She [Michelle Wie] could be adopted by Britney Spears and be better off. I want my 16-year-old daughter to have an enormous phone bill, a case of the giggles and to be pissed off at me for killing her first three boyfriends. I do not want her out on Tour under that kind of pressure. ~ David Feherty

[Arn lining up his second shot in the 6th hole, the course and the day both gorgeous . . . ]

It [Jim Furyk’s swing] looks like a one armed man trying to wrestle a snake in a phone booth. ~ David Feherty

[And he hits it, somewhere in the direction of the hole . . . ]

Watching Phil Mickelson play golf is like watching a drunk chasing a balloon near the edge of a cliff. ~ David Feherty

[Arn teeing off on No. 7, the par 3 with the Minnesota green . . . ]

A cocktail done right can really show your guests that you care. ~ Danny Meyer

[A tour of beautiful Lake Darling on our pontoon, the Moby Obie . . . ]

Elephants and grandchildren never forget. ~ Andy Rooney

[With Tommy at the helm . . . ]

So long, Arn. It’s been good to know you . . .

[And Grandma Ruthie just enjoying the ride . . . ]

[We rated his visit a ’10’!]

Are we going to be friends forever?’ asked Piglet. ‘Even longer,’ Pooh answered.“ ~ A.A. Milne

Tis the privilege of friendship to talk nonsense, and to have her nonsense respected. ~ Charles Lamb

Arn, it was a pleasure to have known you. ~ Me

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