Nelda Joyce Wilson Gilbert was born Dec. 7, 1937, in Brown County, Texas, to Bryant Bennett Wilson and Dorothy Towers Wilson. The Wilsons were long time residents of Brown County with the first Wilson ancestors moving to Brown County in 1872, settling in the western part of Brown County near Bangs. As a child, Nelda rode the school bus into Brownwood where she attended the old JR Looney School, Central and North Wards. Later the family moved into town and Nelda graduated with honors from Brownwood High School in 1956. In 1955 she was married to her high school sweetheart Billie Deen Gilbert. Bill enlisted in the Air Force in 1955 and his first permanent station after training was at the newly formed Abilene Air Force Base, later named Dyess Air Force Base. As a career military family, the family lived in various states throughout Billís career, and when Billís tours took him overseas, including one tour in Viet Nam, Nelda returned to Brownwood to be near family. Near the end of his military stent, Bill was again stationed at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene. It was while there that Nelda went to work for DOD Defense Logistics Agency. During her stent with DLA she and Bill were able to travel with her job and lived in the Azores and later in Panama before returning to the states. She retired in 1998 and they returned to Brownwood, moving into the Gilbert family home. Nelda and Bill were blessed with four children, Bryant Eddie Gilbert, Doni Lea Gilbert Behney, Deena Joy Gilbert Canals, and Billie Deen Gilbert Jr. She and Bill were long time members of the Austin Avenue Baptist Church.
Her parents; a sister, Sue Wilson Owen; a sister, Johnnie Wilson Thomas; and a daughter, Doni Lea Behney predeceased Nelda.
She is survived by her husband of 57 years, Bill; as well as sons, Bryant Eddie Gilbert of Brownwood, Billie Deen Gilbert of Abilene; and daughter, Deena Joy Canals and husband Richard of Niceville, Fla.; and son-in-law, Richard Behney of Burleson. She is survived by nine grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. Also surviving is an aunt, Joyce Overall of Tyler; sisters, Bennie Holt and husband Jerry of Fredericksburg, Dolores Pennington and husband Shelby of Hobbs, N. M.; brother-in-law, William Thomas of Frisco; and sister-in-law, Doris Smith of Fort Worth. She is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be from 6-8 p.m. Saturday at Davis-Morris Funeral Home in Brownwood. Graveside services will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, in Greenleaf Cemetery in Brownwood. The Hon. Rueben Packard will perform the services.
Neldaís wishes were that any flower contributions be sent to the West Texas Rehabilitation Center as donations. Condolences may be left for the family at www.davismorrisfuneralhome.com.