Longtime Reno CEO Lillian Gilbert dies at 101

December 7, 2015

December 7, 2015

Lillian Gilbert, a rare woman in the mostly all-male ranks of Reno business CEOs in the l940s and 50s, died Sunday at a Reno rehabilitation center, three months short of her 102nd birthday. She had been treated for various illnesses.

Gilbert was a manager for the nationally known fashion store Joseph Magnin, first on Virginia Street in downtown Reno and later at Park Lane Mall in Reno.

Born in Brooklyn on March 3, 1914, she came to Reno with husband Harry in the late l940s on the way to live in Alaska. But the couple liked Reno and stayed on, he in general business and she as a jewelry sales person who quickly rose to manager of the San Francisco-based Magnin’s.

She continued as CEO in parts of four decades before retiring in 1972.

She told the Reno Evening Gazette in a 1972 retirement story she never had a problem being a woman in her long business career.

“I guess I was liberated the day I was born,” she said. “Women’s lib has everything stirred up now. But, for me, being a woman never blocked any advancement in my career.”

Gilbert was a graduate of Brooklyn College and became one of New York’s first female insurance brokers, rising to vice president of an agency at 32 before heading west with her husband.

She created an endowment at the University of Nevada, Reno, to search for cures to Parkinson’s Disease. Harry Gilbert died of the disease in l977.

At her request, no funeral service is planned.

Originally published by Reno Gazette-Journal