The incomparable James Allen Gilbert was welcomed to the world on January 26, 1952, in Village, Arkansas, by his parents, Richard and Earnestine Gilbert.
On Friday, October 8, 2021, he answered God’s call to enter into eternal rest.
James received his formal education in the Village School District, and he graduated in 1971. He worked for Alumax, presently known as Sapa, until retirement after 42 years of service. He then made a grand entrepreneurial investment in the community with the launch of Mister James Restaurant located in the heart of the city of Magnolia on July 3, 2009. Anyone who had the golden opportunity to partake in the goodness of this eatery never left without a warm greeting and a smile if Mr. James was present.
The business became such a success in Magnolia that it was able to become a chain in Cedar Hill, TX, on October 29, 2015. The ambiance of the restaurant has proven over the years to be food for not only the body, but also mind and soul because of James and his wonderful staff.
As proprietor and founder of Mister James Restaurants, James’s fixture in the city was also solidified by his generosity with giving back to the community. Even though he was humble in nature and did not look for recognition, he received compliments and accolades from organizations because of his willingness to see his community thrive. His scholarship program at Southern Arkansas University was indeed a blessing to a deserving student needing that extra assistance. One SAU student testified that Mr. James’s concern with her not having a parking sticker and racking up parking tickets yielded him giving her the money to buy the parking sticker so that she’d no longer have trouble with the law. His light in this life will be sorely missed.
James was blessed to know love through the eyes and heart of his queen, Dorothy Lewis. Their love story began almost half a century ago and withstood the tests of time until death departed them. Their union produced a doting daughter and blended the family with treasured sons from previous relationships.
He was truly a wonderful man who was highly revered by everyone he encountered. His wit and infectious smile were not uncommon to witness every time you saw him. His loving kindness drew you and will forever be etched in the lives he touched.
James was preceded in death by his parents, Richard and Earnestine Gilbert; and siblings James and Jean Wilson.
Those left to cherish his memory are his adored partner, Dorothy Lewis; daughter, Crystal (Rawlin) Howell; sons, Kevin Gilbert and DeWayne (Kassondra) Vines; siblings, Repoleon (Mildred) Gilbert, Marzel Taylor, Dorothy Porchia, Charles Gilbert, Velma (Leonard) Jamerson, and Arustine Cooper; daughter-in-love, Tanya Gilbert; sister-in-love, Sherion Maltbia; goddaughter, Sheila Ellis-Green; grandchildren, Jermaia Gilbert, Kevin Gilbert Jr., Lynette Ross, Tyderrian Turner, Gavin Raney, Mason Gilbert, Ga’Camron Ellis, Kris’shonda Garland, Xavier Howell, Krystal Howell, Rawlin Howell Jr., Ka’maury Howell, D’Andrea Green, Wynesha Vines, and DeAndrea Vines; great-grandchildren, Jayce Mathis, Jordan Gilbert, Phoenix Burroughs, Kenya Gilbert, Kaliyah Turner, Aubree Runyon and Kendall Ivory; very special bonus family member and friend, Debra Steward; and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends who will miss him dearly.
Visitation will be from 1-3 p.m. Wednesday. A celebration of life will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, October 14, 2021, at R.L. Reed Funeral Home Chapel in Magnolia. Burial will follow at 23rd Psalms Cemetery in Magnolia under the direction of R.L. Reed Funeral Home, LLC. The Rev. Earnest Moore will be the eulogist.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone is required to wear a mask while attending visitation and the funeral service.