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Slain urologist recalled as devoted, caring

'He had an ability to connect with everybody— young, old — and just make everybody feel special,' friend says.

July 20, 2013|By Lauren Williams
  • Glenn Gilbert remembers his brother Ron Gilbert, who was killed in an exam room at his office.
Glenn Gilbert remembers his brother Ron Gilbert, who… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Shortly after 9/11, Dr. Ron Gilbert penned a letter to his sons advising them to live honorable and meaningful lives.

"Try not to be bitter about the many unfortunate things that may happen to you in your life," he wrote. "Your response to difficult situations will in large part define you as a person."

Less than 12 years later, those words were read again — at Gilbert's funeral and on what would have been his 53rd birthday.

Gilbert, 52, was shot to death Jan. 28 in his urology office near Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach. His wife, Elizabeth, discovered the letter as she combed through documents to fill out his death certificate.

Friends and family said the letter to his sons epitomized someone they described as thoughtful, measured, devoted to Judaism and well-rounded, the kind of man who could crack jokes and then quickly shift gears to a meaningful conversation.

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"That guy was more than three dimensional, man, he was phenomenal," said Dr. Mark Rayman, a friend since childhood. "He was extremely intelligent, but he had charisma. … He had an ability to connect with everybody — young, old — and just make everybody feel special."

Stanwood Elkus is charged with lying in wait in Gilbert's medical office and then shooting him to death. Elkus, 75, is expected in court Aug. 23 for a preliminary hearing and faces a minimum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

Elkus, who has pleaded not guilty, told the Daily Pilot in a jailhouse interview that he believes Gilbert botched his surgery years ago, but those familiar with the case say the suspect mistook the victim for someone with a similar name.

"I'll admit, what I did was a terrible thing," Elkus told the Pilot at the Theo Lacy Facility in Orange.

Elkus, however, did not clarify whether that "terrible thing" was shooting Gilbert.

The shooting claimed the life of a man described by his brother Glenn Gilbert as "a super mensch."

"I said, 'I think we should come up with a new term and put it in the Yiddish dictionary with his picture by it, and we should call it a `super mensch' or a `Ronald Gilbert mensch' or something and distinguish it from all the other mensches," Glenn Gilbert recalled, using the Yiddish word for a person of integrity and honor. "Because to lump him in the category with all the other mensches is not accurate."

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