Agnes Joan Sewell Gilbert, died on October 31, 2013, at her residence in Sturgeon, Mo., after a short illness.
She was born in 1931 in Dixon, Mo., the daughter of Blanche Evelyn Gilbert and Daniel Boone Sewell.
A late-in-life addition to the family, her two siblings were grown during most of her childhood which was spent in Dixon and she recalled fondly the many happy hours she spent during those years with her dad.
She was graduated from what is now Missouri State University in 1953 and immediately began her life’s work as a journalist and writer.
She became known throughout the state, indeed across the country, as an expert in writing of horses and about Missouri ghost stories. Her first book, “Summerhill Summer,” was published in 1967.
During her lifetime, she sold more than 700 works, both fiction and non-fiction. Some of her favorite subjects were animals, Jim the Wonder Dog, Tom Bass, and Loula Long Combs.
She accumulated more than 25 first-place awards from regional, statewide and national competitions for her work. However, she said her favorite prize was the Missouri Writers’ Week Award for Poetry in 1997.
In addition to anthologies containing her stories, she authored “The Trail of Tears Across Missouri,” published by the University of Missouri’s Missouri Heritage Series, a book close to her heart due to stories her mother had told her of the early 1900s living in Oklahoma among the Native Americans. This book won a first prize from Missouri Press Women and a second prize from the National Federation of Press Women. She also was the author of “House of Whispers” under the pen name Jill Baer.
Given the date of her death, it couldn’t be more appropriate that she was also the author of “Missouri Ghosts,” published regionally in 1997, winner of a first place from Missouri Press Women, and “More Missouri Ghosts,” published in 2000 by Gilbert’s own company, Mogho Books, which won first prizes from both Missouri Writers Guild and Missouri Press Women, and a second prize from the National Federation of Press Women.
Her latest books included “Missouri Ghosts III,” “Missouri Horses-Gift to a Nation” and “Holiday Horses.”
She first married Dewey Lipscomb. After that marriage ended, she wed Ira Joseph “Sport” Gilbert, who died in 1979, but she always attributed to his wise financial advice her ability to spend her years pursuing her love of writing. She also was predeceased by her parents, her brother Donald Eugene Sewell, and her sister, Margaret June Sewell Maneke.
She is survived by Darla and Trent Porter, Jefferson City, who were like her daughter and son-in-law in recent years; two adopted step-daughters, Mary Augusta Gilbert Jackson and Martha Sue Gilbert Reenan; and her nieces, Jean Maneke, Kansas City, and Joy Rempe, Idaho Falls, Idaho, and their children.
She loved the Earth and all its beauty and chose cremation. A brief commitment gathering is planned for close friends and family. For further information regarding those plans, please contact Maupin Funeral Home, Fulton, 573-642-3334. Memorial contributions should be any animal no-kill shelter of your choice, in recognition of her love of all animals.