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Stephen Goltra Gilbert ’52

A picture of Stephen Gilbert

Stephen Gilbert ’52 in 1994

Stephen Goltra Gilbert ’52, February 21, 2014, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Steve was an art major at Reed, completing his degree in the combined program with the Museum Art School (PNCA) and writing a thesis on woodcarving. His parents, Malcolm Gilbert ’17 and Inez J. Goltra, recognized and supported Steve’s innate love of the natural world and his artistic instincts, we read in the obituary prepared by Dave Mazierski for the University of Toronto, where Steve later taught. During his precollege years, Steve made a happy acquaintance with musical theatre and opera, and many years past that time performed on stage with the Tycho Brahe Players in Albany, Oregon. Following his graduation from Reed, Steve served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and studied medical illustration at Massachusetts General Hospital. He was employed as an illustrator for the University of Washington, but grew frustrated with institutional illustration, we learned, which led to his returning to his family’s farm in Oregon. During the 12 years that followed, he did research, dissection, and illustration for his highly acclaimed laboratory manuals on mammalian anatomy. In 1973, he joined the faculty at the University of Toronto to teach in the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine, remaining at the university for 23 years, and retiring as a full professor. In the early ’70s, Steve studied Japanese tebori, a method of tattooing by hand, and in retirement, he worked as a tattoo artist at Abstract Arts Tattoo in Toronto. His history with the art stretched back to his early years in Portland and a view into a waterfront tattoo parlor. “Tattooing is a kick-ass business,” he reported. “It’s exciting—it gets your adrenaline going, like performing onstage.” His work had a “subtle and dynamic aesthetic vision,” wrote Penny Hummel ’83 in a 2002 feature for Reed, which reviewed his book Tattoo History: A Source Book. Mazierski wrote, “His beautiful tone and pen & ink illustrations, his gentle and caring nature, and his great passion for art, science, and truth will always inspire us to be better illustrators, teachers, and human beings. There will never be another man like him.” Steve is survived by his wife, Cheralea; their children Emily, Genevieve, and Scott; and his children, Ann, David, and Tom.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2014

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