Cover photo for James M. Gilbert's Obituary
James M. Gilbert Profile Photo
1980 James 2022

James M. Gilbert

December 15, 1980 — January 16, 2022

James Matthew Gilbert

Age 41, of Elmira, died January 16, 2022.

In life, there are people whom you may only meet for a brief period of time, yet they touch your heart forever. James was one of those people.

James arrived as an early Christmas present for his parents Kim and LaVonne on December 15, 1980 and continued to bring them joy up until the very end. When his sister Megan joined the family a few years later, he was her first friend. He met his wife Amy at BOCES and they started dating at 17 years old. James was welcomed into Amy’s family by her parents, Ralph and Mary Lou and her brother Adam. He not only was loved by these people, but also by his extended family and group of friends from all over the world.

As a teenager, James discovered a passion for Underground Rap and became part of the Juggalo culture. He was an avid fan of Insane Clown Posse, Twiztid, Anybody Killa, The Snowgoons, Esham, Lex the Hex Master, Claas, Boondox, Blaze, Tech N9ne, and many more (pretty much any rapper who wasn’t played on the radio). He was also lucky to not only be a fan of, but also a great friend to Bukshot. A few years ago, Bukshot gifted James with a dream come true with the help of the Dream Foundation and University of Rochester Blood and Marrow Transplant Social Worker Mike Ellis. Bukshot brought James down to Louisville Kentucky to watch Bukshot in the recording studio and just hang out with him as the homies that they were. Bukshot gave James’ family a gift too, a mini documentary about this meeting that can be found on YouTube by searching “Bukshot” and “Dream,” in this video, James’ image and voice will live forever.

At the young age of 28, James was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and thus began a 13 year battle with not only this disease, but also the complications stemming from the treatments for it. Traveling this long road, James was lucky to be supported by an amazing medical team at the University of Rochester, every single person who cared for him did so with compassion. James was particularly lucky to have Dr. Michael Becker and Dr. Everett Porter on his side, and they were there until the end.

James said he wanted to be remembered as a good person and in the days since his death those who loved him have said just that about him. He was a kind person, an unofficial promoter for Underground Rappers everywhere, and a trusted friend who could keep a secret (TK, he never told anyone how you got your nickname!).

James is survived by his parents Kim and LaVonne Gilbert, sister Megan Hojnoski and her husband Chris, niece Rose Marie Shellenberger, nephews Nicholas James Shellenberger and Emmet Hojnoski, wife Amy Van Buren Gilbert, father-in-law Ralph Van Buren, brother-in-law Adam Van Buren, his beloved canine buddy Orlando, his stem cell donor and special friend Philipp Mechenbier and Philipp’s wife Anke, along with a loving extended biological family, wonderful friends, and his worldwide Juggalo family. His was predeceased by his maternal grandmother RoseMarie Kendrick and his mother-in-law Mary Lou Van Buren.

Family and friends of James are welcome to come to a celebration of his life to be held this Sunday (January 23rd) at 1:00pm at the Royce-Chedzoy Funeral Home, 212 E. 4th St., Watkins Glen. There are no prior visiting hours. You may write a memory of James in his obituary at

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider making a donation to the Dream Foundation ( – an organization that helps grant final wishes to terminally ill adults, or the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society ( -- an organization that helps fight these diseases.

“It ain’t about you, it ain’t about me. This whole thing’s way bigger than we both see…you have to show that when the road gets tough you gotta be that hero.” Bukshot

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James M. Gilbert, please visit our flower store.

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Sunday, January 23, 2022

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