‘A Good Man’ – Jay Peanut Festival host Gene Gabbert has passed away: NorthEscambia.com


The man who welcomed thousands and thousands of people to his farm each year for the Jay Peanut Festival has passed away.

Eugene Emil Gabbert, known as “Gene”, has passed away at the age of 84. Gene and his wife Brenda saw crowds of 75,000 or more make their way to the Jay Peanut Festival on the first weekend in October.

“I was fortunate to have spent 61 years of marriage to the most wonderful man and the most loving father of our daughters,” said Brenda. The Peanut Festival was launched in 1990 in memory of their daughter Melissa Caroline Gabbert, who died of cancer.

There have been many accolades over the years for the Jay Peanut Festival, including recognition from the United States Congress.

Gabbert was born in 1937 on a 160-acre farm in Minnesota.

“Gene loved living on his family farm, as he did on ours here on Pine Level Church Road,” said Brenda.

He joined the Air Force when he was just 19, serving four years of active service plus two years in reserve. He was stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base when he married Brenda, shortly after she graduated from Bay High School in Panama City. He worked for a private telephone company in Minnesota and General Dynamics before becoming a supervisor at Western Electric and then Southern Bell.

In 1975, the couple moved from Cantonment to Jay, opening a John Deere dealership which they operated for 11 years. He worked as a salesman and continued farming.

“He then decided to retire from his outside jobs to work in his home workshop, repairing tractors and farm equipment. He enjoyed restoring old 2-cylinder tractors, rail cars and other farm equipment, ”she said. Its farm museum and tractor exhibits were peanut festival favorites.

“There wasn’t much that Gene couldn’t build, repair or maintain. He built everything on our farm with his own hands. Brenda said. “He was a good man with a loving heart and soul.”

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