New Haven fire victim remembered by childhood friend

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Pam Boardman-Simpson says she’ll remember Charlton Gilbert as the cute little boy with glasses in her sixth grade class at Alice Peck Elementary School in Hamden back in 1964.

Gilbert died early Wednesday of smoke inhalation after police say a fire broke out in his sixth-floor apartment at the University Towers building on York Street. He was 63.

Two other residents had to be transported to the hospital with burns or smoke inhalation and two firefighters also were treated for minor injuries. Dozens were forced out onto the street. Fire officials are still investigating for a cause.

“A friend of ours called me this morning and told me the name and I said, ‘Charlton, is that Chuck?’ and then of course I learned during the day that it had been,” Boardman-Simpson said.

She said the last time she saw Gilbert “he had on his hat with a little draw strap and I said, ‘Chuck, do you know how I am?’” The old classmates then reminisced about old times.

“He was always looking forward,” said Boardman-Simpson, adding that that is how she’ll remember him.

Neighbors say Gilbert was a sort of fixture downtown. He could often be seen walking around making friends with people on the street.

“Every day he would always be like, ‘Hello, Maureen, how are you doing?’ Just always very friendly,” said Maureen Wright.

Perhaps it was something in his blood that made him such a joy to be around. Gilbert was the nephew of A.C. Gilbert, a famous Connecticut toymaker.

“For 50 years, Alfred Carlton Gilbert put his signature on toys for children,” reads a page dedicated to him on the Eli Whitney Museum and Workshop’s website. “He built a world of learning tools that were unified by a distinct, personal vision. No toymaker’s name in history is better known.”

Said Boardman-Simpson, “If his family is out there, let them know that he has people that cared about him and that we stopped and we looked and we listened to his story.”

AJ Walker reporting

WTNH NEWS8 provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Also, you can now block any inappropriate user by simple selecting the drop down menu on the right of any comment and selection "Block User" from there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s