On what would have been his 53rd birthday Wednesday, those who knew Dr. Ronald Gilbert were still trying to understand why someone would want to gun down the urologist, killing him in his Newport Beach medical office.
Ehren Jacobs reeled at the loss of the friend he'd known since 1969.
"So many shared experiences -- like going to summer camp, staying out all night to get concert tickets and learning about the happiness and sadness of life's experiences," Jacobs recalls. "Not to mention all of the shared family events like weddings, bar mitzvahs and birthdays."
Jacobs, who met Gilbert in the fourth grade, said the doctor had a way of making everyone feel important.
"I feel the most important thing to say is that he was a real quality person," Jacobs said. "Someone you'd feel lucky to call your friend."
Gilbert was known as a man devoted to his wife, family and Jewish faith, said friends.
The Huntington Beach resident was shot to death Monday while getting ready to tend to a patient in a medical exam room at the Hoag Medical Group building. Prosecutors say Stanwood Fred Elkus, 75, of Lake Elsinore was Gilbert's last patient. When the doctor walked into the exam room to meet Elkus for the first time, prosecutors allege Ellkus pulled out a gun and shot the doctor multiple times.
Attempts by fellow physicians to revive Gilbert failed. He died at the scene.
Elkus, described by Lake Elsinore neighbors as a nice man who was battling incontinence caused by recent prostate surgery, was arrested minutes after the shooting and charged with murder. He remains behind bars without bail and is scheduled to return to court in March.
Victor Cueto, who met the doctor when their boys played Little League together in Tustin, said he was crushed to learn about Gilbert's murder, calling it "a huge loss for the community."
"He was gifted at everything. A loving husband and father of his boys," Cueto said. "He had a spectacular sense of humor. He was a great man and friend."
Gilbert, a graduate of UCI Medical School, is credited as the chief scientist behind Promescent, a spray-on product to treat premature ejaculation. He also served as an assistant clinical professor of urology and chief of Hoag Hospital's urology department from October 1998 to September 2002.
"In his leadership role he was well respected by his fellow physicians and the hospital's staff," said Richard Afable, president and CEO of Hoag Hospital. "He was admired, respected and beloved by the Hoag family and will be deeply missed."
Jennifer Despres met Gilbert while working at Hoag Hospital. Although it's been 15 years since the two were in an operating room together, Despres said she would never forget the kind and funny surgeon.
"I can tell you there were two moments I recall working with him where I had never laughed harder in the operating room," Despres said. "He was very witty and personable."