Gilbert (Gil) Jara


Gil passed away on Sunday, March 7 at 6:34pm with Nicole, Mary, and Cathy by his side.

Gil was born in Dallas, Texas to his father Refugio Jara and mother Concha Jara (Islas). He proudly shared his Texas and Mexican heritage. He lived life fully in all that he did, an avid tennis player, pool player, skydiver, scuba diver, pilot and helicopter adventurer. The most treasured accomplishment in his life was his daughter, Nicole. They shared a love for the game of tennis and together made a challenging team.

He is survived by his daughter Nicole; her mother Cathy; his wife Mary; four sisters, Julia Canales, Alicia Gonzalez, Ester Azzona, and Maryann Twarty; his mother Concha; and many nieces and nephews. Julia loved and took care of Gil as a child and traveled with our family for over 30 years. She shares so many great, fond memories of the fun things we did together. Many memories bring laughter and smiles.

 Tennis and skydiving were his lifetime fun! His love for tennis started in high school, his junior year. It would not have been unusual to see him, his father Rufus, and his brothers Ted and Jay enjoying family competitive games on the public courts in Dallas. He could run any ball down. Ted held the most powerful serve though. His dad was known for his deadly slice (wherever you were not) and the perfectly placed lob. Where he moved to KC, he joined KC Racquet Club. There were many famous matches! In the 1970s and 80s, KC was known for weekend tennis tournaments. Those were the days! Gil would enter singles and doubles which meant playing the whole weekend. When Nicole started playing, his focus was on her game. We had countless late nights at Woodside Racquet Club drilling. Prior to his passing, Gil was getting back into his tennis after some injuries and was looking forward to many more years. His email inbox is full of friends remembering him and he would be so touched by all of their comments.

 Skydiving at the Green County Skydiving Club in Wellsville, Kansas was the start of his next love. Those were the days of static line programs which allowed a slower start to ensure the students’ safety and comfort. He would be at the drop zone late into the night after a day full of student loads when he moved to a jump master status. Big meets were held all over the Midwest, Dallas, and Florida which he loved to attend. A picture at home boasts a 58 way (58 skydivers holding arms and legs to form a large formation after leaving the planes), he was always trying to be in the record breaking skydive.

Never intending to leave us, Gil will remain in our hearts and memories. He was such a presence in our lives and touched many people over the years. He was cared for by the wonderful staff at Olathe Medical Center and St. Luke’s Hospital on the Plaza. Some friends have asked about ways to remember Gil.

Memorial Contributions

We have chosen to remember Gil with a contribution to two youth tennis programs in the KC area.

Stephanie Waterman Foundation at, PayPal:

The website shares their focus: “Brighter futures for the next generation. Providing under-resourced inner-city youth with brighter futures through free tennis, life skills, and enrichment programs.”

Genesis School at, PayPal:

The USTA shared the tennis program within the Genesis School located in the East side of Kansas City that serves inner-city youth. The School expanded their resources to create an “NJTL program that utilizes the sport of tennis to further the growth of their students.”


  1. James Dawkins on March 20, 2021 at 6:13 pm

    Like many others I met Gil playing tennis. He wiped the court the with me in our first time playing. I remember he hit this crazy spinning short forhand crosscourt. The first few times he hit it I thought it was a mishit. Probably took 5 or 6 times before I realized he was doing it purposefully and very effectively. Later I would learn he called this putting “Mau Mau” (sp?) on the ball. Someone even made him Mau Mau t-shirts.

    Beyond tennis, Gil was always himself as much as anyone I have known. Gil would make no apologies for it. Gil would say what he was thinking, so you always knew where you stood with Gil and it was something I really appreciated about him. I am glad I had the opportunity to get to know Gil.

  2. Vijay Mohnish on March 19, 2021 at 3:52 pm

    Played a lot with Gil. Always aimed for the lines. Sad news. Condolences to the family.

  3. Hang Chen on March 18, 2021 at 2:19 pm

    My condolences to you, Nicole. It was nice for me to have chances to play with and against Gil and you. It was always fun to be on court with him regardless of winning or losing. A line I remember the best from him: we suppose to lose a point at 40-love. Gil, you will be missed!

  4. Kevin Lehr on March 17, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    With Alley and Jara as a doubles team there was certain to be controversy with the other team- then they’d play singles against each other ( same tournament mind you) and they’d get into it with each other. Now that’s entertainment! 🙂 You’ll be missed Gil- gone much too soon. Thoughts and prayers to Mary , Nicole , and loved ones.

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