H B Gelatt—a wonderful man and gentle soul filled with warmth, wisdom and joy—died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 94 on June 3, 2021, at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View with his wife Carol Casey Gelatt at his side, as she had been for 40 years.
In addition to Carol, H B leaves behind two sons and daughters-in-law, Paul and Natalie Gelatt of Boulder, CO and Lee and Patty Gelatt of Grand Junction, CO; and four grandchildren, Kai, Carly, Riley and Amy. He was previously married for 23 years to the late Margaret Copley Gelatt, the mother of his children.
H B was born in Los Gatos, CA on June 10, 1926, to Dora Hook Gelatt and Harry B Gelatt. His parents and three older siblings, Gerald, Carl and Dorothy, predeceased him. He was a graduate of Los Gatos High School and earned a bachelor’s in psychology from San Jose State University and a master’s and doctorate in counseling psychology from Stanford University.
H B believed he had three careers. For 25 years he worked in public education as a teacher, counselor and Director of Guidance for the Palo Alto Unified School District. His second career of about 25 years was as a consultant, keynote speaker, workshop leader and author on decision making, futures thinking and educational renewal. It was during this time that he wrote Creative Decision Making Using Positive Uncertainty and co-founded Gelatt Partners with Carol. Since 2006, his third career focused on writing about beliefs and illuminating how we see things through his blog, Positive Uncertainty: The Benefit of Doubt and the Danger of Dogma, and his final book, Future Sense: Seeing the Forest and the Trees, published in 2021.
A self-described sports addict, H B was passionate about basketball, baseball and football—whether as a player, manager, scorekeeper or sports officiant. He was an avid fan of the Warriors, Giants, 49ers and Stanford men’s and women’s sports. He enjoyed hiking, camping and backpacking. H B was especially proud that he played tennis with a group of friends on many different Stanford courts every Wednesday and Saturday for 60 years.
An introvert at heart, H B loved reading books, going out for breakfast, taking walks in nature, listening to music, visiting bookstores and libraries, reflecting on life, sitting in Carol’s garden, drinking good wine, eating Carol’s cooking and finishing the day with ice cream.
Celebrations of Life were held privately.
In lieu of donations, consider honoring H B’s memory by embracing his belief that we can create a positive future for everyone and the planet if we develop a collective worldview that is open and inclusive. The first step in creating a positive worldview and positive future is to believe we can. As H B loved to say, the minute we make up our minds that the way we see things makes a difference, it makes a difference in the way we see and do things.