A celebration of life for Ralph K. Gibson, 88, of Wayland will be held Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 10:30AM at the Beatty Funeral Home in Washington. Burial will follow at the Center Cemetery in rural Wayland with full military honors. Visitation will be held Wednesday, September 21 from noon until 8PM at the Beatty Funeral Home in Washington where the family will greet friends from 6-8PM. Ralph Gibson died Sunday, September 18, 2011 at his home in Wayland surrounded by family. A memorial fund has been established for the Gideons, WACO Scools, McCurdy School in Espanola, New Mexico, or Hospice of Central Iowa.
Ralph Kenneth Gibson was born April 19, 1923 on a farm near Mediapolis, Iowa the son of Orville and Ethyle (Ping) Gibson. He married the love of his life, Inger Barrick on November 23, 1944 in Wapello, Iowa. Upon graduating from Huron High School he went to Burlington Junior College. With the start of WWII he joined the Army Air Force and attained the rank of Staff Sargent. He was a decorated Tail Gunner receiving both the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Army Air Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters. He flew 30 missions with the last two being on D-Day over Berlin, Germany.
Ralph “Squirt” had many talents. He was a welder at Case in Burlington. He studied refrigeration in Chicago and took a job at Benner's in Burlington. While living in Mediapolis and commuting to his two full time jobs in Burlington, he decided to build a house with no plans, no money and no experience. Talk about courage! The house still stands today.
Ralph also had a distinguished career in teaching and administration. He moved his family to Cedar Falls, Iowa to continue his education, receiving a BA at Iowa State Teachers College while still working full time at Phillips 66 Station. Following graduation he took his first teaching job as an industrial education teacher at Brandon, Iowa and coached both boys and girls sports. After two years he returned to Cedar Falls to work on his master's degree in administration. His next position in education was to become a principal in the Marcus, Iowa school system. He remained there until 1969 when he took over as superintendent of the WACO school system and remained there until he retired in 1988.
Following retirement he and Inger enjoyed local and international mission work around the world. They especially enjoyed working at the Crowded Closet in Iowa City and McCurdy Christian School in New Mexico where he tutored students in math.
Ralph's favorite hobbies included going to his many children's, grandchildren's and great grand children's activities. He liked to golf and even managed a Hole-in-One. He was the number one fan of all WACO sports, plays and musicals, as well as a devoted Iowa Hawkeye fan. He was a member of the Wayland Methodist Church, Gideon Society, American Legion, and the Lions Club where he served at a past president. He also served as a lay speaker.
He is survived by his children, Kenneth Gibson and wife Ginni of Iowa City, Iowa, Karen Weerman and husband Dirk of Washington, Iowa, Kathy Sawyer and husband David of Fairfax, Iowa, Kevin Gibson and wife Betsy of Ames, Iowa and Karla Lessman and husband Jeff of Omaha, Nebraska, 12 grandchildren, 14 great grand children, his brothers Keith “Skeet” Gibson of Aurora, Illinois and Don “Boots” Gibson and wife Cheryl of Burlington, Iowa.
He was preceded in death by his parents, and his wife Inger.