‘A Good Man’ – Gene Gabbert, Jay Peanut Festival Host, Has Passed Away

November 21, 2021

The man that hosted thousands upon thousands  of people at his farm each year for the Jay Peanut Festival has passed away.

Eugene Emil Gabbert, known as “Gene”, passed away at the age of 84. Gene and his wife Brenda, saw crowds reaching 75,000 or more visit the Jay Peanut Festival on the first weekend of each October.

“I was fortunate to have spent 61 years of marriage to the most wonderful man and the most loving father to our daughters,” Brenda said. The peanut festival was started in 1990 in memory of their daughter Melissa Caroline Gabbert, who passed away due to cancer.

There were many accolades over the years for the Jay Peanut Festival — including  U.S. Congressional recognition.

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,” Brenda stated.

He joined the Air Force when he was just 19-years old, serving  four years active duty 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 with Western Electric and then Southern Bell.

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

“He then decided to retire from outside jobs to work from his home shop, repairing farm tractors and equipment. He loved restoring old 2-cylinder tractors, wagons, and other farm equipment,” she said. His farm museum and tractor displays were peanut festival favorites.

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


9 Responses to “‘A Good Man’ – Gene Gabbert, Jay Peanut Festival Host, Has Passed Away”

  1. Edward C on November 27th, 2021 12:39 am

    I met him during the 2013 Santa Rosa County Farm Tour. RIP.

  2. Chris on November 22nd, 2021 1:07 pm

    What a legendary man. They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore. Such a sad loss. Just to see the great men dying out and nobody to come up in their stead because our society is rapidly deteriorating. People have become, per capita, more horrible creatures than ever before.
    Prayers up and blessings to his family as I’m certain this loss they will carry until they see Mr. Gabbert again. As for his soul, it seems that was taken care of long ago by the life he lead.

  3. K Sauers on November 21st, 2021 7:56 pm

    Our fond memories of the Gabbert Family go back to their days living “across the park” in the Mayfair area (late 1960’s)….. pulling the young Missy in a wagon with his little lawn tractor. Gene was definitely one of the best; sincere condolences to Brenda & family (((❤️)))

  4. Veronica on November 21st, 2021 5:36 pm

    Such a sad loss for our community. Such a great man and will be saying prayers for his family. We’ve always enjoyed going to the festival.

  5. Ali on November 21st, 2021 12:57 pm

    What a wonderful thing he has done all of these years to bring people together. Condolences to his family. RIP.

  6. tg on November 21st, 2021 9:06 am

    Gene ran a First Class Operation and will be missed by his family and Jay Fl. RIP

  7. Jack on November 21st, 2021 7:51 am

    God bless this man and his family lot of great times at peanut festivals

  8. RC on November 21st, 2021 7:48 am

    Thank you Mr. Gabbert for all of the memories and good times . Rest in peace Sir. Our sincere condolences to the Gabbert family.

  9. concerned on November 21st, 2021 7:20 am

    heaven has just gained a great soul . rest in peice

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