Gilbert Henry Iker was born July 18, 1927, in Detroit, Michigan, to Henry R. and Mary McCabe Iker and passed away peacefully at his home in St. George, Utah, on March 9, 2015. He had lived a long and eventful life.
Before his teenage years his father was called to active duty in the Army Air Corps and they began the changes of station which would end in Salt Lake City, Utah, when Gil was a junior in high school. He attended East High School where he quickly made many friends and was a Senior Class officer. He volunteered for the Navy shortly before the end of World War II, then return to study at the University of Utah where he affiliated with Sigma Chi fraternity. There he met his lifelong companion, Thelma Peterson. They were married in 1948.
Gil earned an ROTC commission and was called to duty in 1951, spent a year in Russian language studies at Syracuse University and was sent to Germany in the occupation forces. After six years active duty, he and Thelma returned to Utah with their three small children and lived in Ogden and Salt Lake from then on. Gil joined the Army National Guard in 19th Special Forces, which he later commanded and from which he retired after his first broken neck in a night parachute exercise. He always said he made 434 great jumps and 433 great landings.
Gil loved his family, his university and his country. His three children repaid his love by becoming themselves not just a loving family but exemplary parents of extraordinary children. His wife, Thelma, was an active partner in his business, military service and community activities. He was a member of the Salt Lake Rotary Club, which he served as president, and he served several years on the Salt Lake Planning Commission.
He remained involved and active in the University of Utah, supporting the athletic programs and serving on the National Advisory Council and was given an Emeritus Alumni Award. After his many years of donations to the U, his final gift was that of his body, which will go to the School of Medicine.
Gil served his country in three services, the Navy, the Air Force and the Army, during wars ranging from World War II to Vietnam. He was never in combat, but meticulously trained his men for survival in combat. He was 50% disabled in his last years. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal and the Legion of Merit medal. The Utah National Guard also awarded him their Bronze Minuteman Award for military and community service.
He was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his brother, Larry (Marilyn) Iker; his wife, Thelma; his children: Michael (Pat Cornett) Iker, Kristin (Jon) Gerde and Karen (Arthur) Mannix; and grandchildren: Annemarie and Theresa Iker, Monika and Tom Gerde, Janet (Brad) Stewart, Tazlina (Casey) Fagerquist and Ian Mannix.
- Per Gil’s wishes there will be no funeral services.
- A celebration of his life will be held late in May in Salt Lake City and will be announced in the newspaper.
His family wishes to thank the caregivers who helped to make his passing easier, Home Instead, Dixie Hospice and his caring friends. In lieu of flowers, you might like to contribute to Dixie Hospice, to the Fort Douglas Military Museum building fund, or to a charity of your choice.
Arrangements have been made under the direction of Metcalf Mortuary.