Editors Note: The author, Benjamin Aliber, is a digital content producer at mychamplainvalley.com & is the grandson of Gilbert Aliber.

Gilbert Donald Aliber, the longtime CEO of Rutland’s Mental Health Services Center, passed away August 31 after his long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Gil lived to 90 years old. The average person with the disease lives between the ages of 70 and 80 years old, according to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

After graduating from Amherst College with a history degree, Gil served as 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force as a navigator for a three-person crew on a B-47 Bomber. After his discharge, Gil returned to Greenfield, MA.

In 1968, Gil and his wife Phyllis lost their youngest child Stephen, sending Gil down a spiritual path. He decided to change careers and dedicate himself to helping others. He moved his family to Boston and earned a Master’s degree in psychiatric counseling from Boston University. 

In 1973, Gil became CEO at Rutland Mental Health Center, originally a child guidance clinic, that’s served most of the behavioral mental health needs of Rutland County. Under his watch, from 1973-1997, Rutland Mental Health Center grew from a staff of 12, to over 400 full and part-time workers.

Gil held high expectations for all who worked for him and took his role as leader and mentor very seriously during his 24 years as CEO.

Anna Pietryka, a current nursing supervisor at Rutland Mental Health Services Center, worked with Gil after she joined the team in 1974. Pietryka talked about the leadership he brought, and the inclusivity as well as diversity the state of Vermont saw during his time as CEO.

Whether it was his office door always being open to come in to talk, the ability to join in on staff meetings or out of office activities Gil proposed to his staff, Anna repeatedly mentioned one theme: family.

On a personal note, my grandfather Gil was a family man and always saw the best in everyone. He never judged those around him. He dedicated himself to helping others.