Gilbert Frank Coelho
July 12, 1941 – April 15, 2022
Gilbert Coelho, a long-time resident of Firebaugh, passed away on April 15, 2022 after a brief illness. Gilbert was 80 years young. He was a great example of a man of faith and great character.
He was born in San Leandro, CA, the second of three boys and one girl born to Otto and Alice Coelho. He was raised on the family dairy farm in Dos Palos, attended local schools and graduated from Dos Palos High in 1960. While growing up, Gilbert was involved in 4-H and FFA raising and showing his own animals, along with his brothers. Gilbert continued working on the family dairy farm until the mid 1960’s, after which time he worked at Eagle Field and then in custom farming with his father in the Hilmar area.
Gilbert continued in the agricultural industry with employment at Western Farm Service, TRI Farms and Del Monte Fresh Produce. He became a specialist in the melon growing and harvesting industry. Gilbert was well respected during his many years as a Pest Control Advisor, Harvest manager and grower recruiter. He retired in 2009 and continued in the industry with some individualized agricultural consulting.
While working the Dos Palos and Firebaugh area, Gilbert met the love of his life, Carol Cunha and they were married in November of 1973. The Coelho and Cunha families had long known each other so it was a match made in heaven.
Gilbert and Carol made their home in Firebaugh in 1975 and their children all attended Firebaugh schools.
Gilbert found time, while working, to become very involved in the community, the schools and the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.
He attended all school related activities while staying active with community events. Gilbert served on the City of Firebaugh/School District Community Recreation Commission which oversees all community youth activities. He volunteered at the local Harvest Festival (Cantaloupe Round-Up) each year, volunteered, and cooked for the community at the Annual Christmas Day Dinner. He served as president of the local Lions Club, Firebaugh Service Club and Firebaugh Rotary Club and was a member of the Knights of Columbus. If anyone ever needed a helping hand, Gilbert was the first to volunteer.
Gilbert was an active member of St. Joseph Catholic Church and served on both the church finance council and the bereavement committee. He could always be found in the kitchen helping to cook either for a fundraiser or bereavement luncheon.
Gilbert’s passion was serving the Firebaugh-Las Deltas Unified School District. First elected as a school board member in November of 1983. He served as a Board Member for over 37 years.
He took his position very seriously, making a point to connect with students, administrators teachers and classified staff alike at every school in the district. He served as school board President several times as well as Clerk of the Board. Gilbert also served as a Delegate for the California School Boards Association for the past 20 years at the local and county level. He served on the Small Schools Committee and served as an Executive Board Member for the Fresno County Trustees Association for many years.
Gilbert played an integral role in the development of the Westside Institute of Technology (WIT) which was a coalition of three neighboring unified school districts and West Hills College. The WIT was established to provide job training for both high school students and young adults from the Westside communities.
Using his agricultural knowledge Gilbert helped develop the Firebaugh High School Ag Department Almond Orchard. He spent many hours there doing what he loved: farming and working with the staff and youth of our district and our community. Gilbert could be seen pruning trees, weeding, fertilizing, and irrigating atop his gator. By producing and selling the almond, the Ag Department is able to provide money for more projects and improvements to their farm.
Gilbert was recently asked to describe what a legacy means to him, and he said “what you have accomplished or have done to make things better for other people.” Gilbert truly has left a legacy in Firebaugh.
He wanted nothing but the best for the school district and for the community and he gave nothing less than his very best, every day.
Gilbert was preceded in death by his parents, Otto and Alice Coelho, his father and mother in-law, Frank and Elaine Cunha and two nephews.
Gilbert is survived by his loving wife of 48 years, Carol; his children, Michelle of Aurora, CO, Gregory (Sandy) of Newport, WA and Tracey Mason (Robert) of Fresno; five grandchildren, Elizabeth Coelho Neuwirth, Somer Coelho Magnuson and Hunter, Morgan and Jacob Coelho; his brothers, Otto (Claudette) of Madera and Tony (Phyllis) of Delaware and his sister Susan of Patterson; and his in-laws, Frank (Cathie) Cunha of Sutter Creek, Ron (Ruth) Cunha of Firebaugh, Diane (Rick) Elrod of Madera, Judy (Scott) Holwell of Hanford and Cindy (James) Jordan of Fresno, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Services for Gilbert will be held on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church,
1558 12th St., Firebaugh. Visitation will begin at 8:30am, with a recitation of the rosary at 9:30 am. and Mass of Christian Burial will begin at 10:00 a.m.
A reception will be held at the Firebaugh Rodeo Grounds located at 1655 13th St. Firebaugh, CA 93622 at approximately 11:30, after the services.
Burial at Saint Peter’s Cemetery, 264 N Blythe Ave., Fresno at 2pm.
Remembrances may be directed to the FLDUS Foundation, In memory of Gilbert Coelho, 1976 Morris Kyle Dr, Firebaugh, CA 93622.
To send flowers to Gilbert's family, please visit our floral store.
FLDUS Foundation, In memory of Gilbert Coelho
1976 Morris Kyle Drive, Firebaugh CA 93622