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Life Story / Obituary
With a fabulous sense of humor and an undauntable spirit, Jeff Gibson lived a heart-centered life rich in family and friends. Though a smart ass through and through, Jeff was also deeply sensitive and possessed a keen awareness of other’s needs. He loved being of service to others, and nothing brought him greater joy than cheering on his favorite sports team with his loved ones at his side. A devoted husband, step-father, grandfather, and friend, Jeff brought lightness and laughter everywhere he went. An inspiration to many, Jeff’s legacy of love and laughter will long comfort the hearts of those he loved.
1951 proved a year of increased comforts and exciting new possibilities. While unemployment dropped to 3.3% the nation additionally celebrated the first direct-dial trans-coastal phone call, easier travel in more comfortable cars and on newly paved interstates, and the premieres of “I Love Lucy,” “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” and “An American in Paris.” Nowhere was the sense of hope for the future more celebrated than in Kalamazoo, Michigan as Robert and Margaret (Donahue) Gibson welcomed their son Jeff into their hearts and home on August 30.
Growing up in West Michigan during the 50s and 60s, Jeff enjoyed a childhood filled with time outdoors and centered in family values. While his father worked for the Upjohn Company, his mother, a hair stylist by trade, stayed home. Three years older than his sister, Patti, Jeff was a proud older brother. Many days were spent playing outdoors with neighbors and friends. He especially enjoyed playing football with his buddies, and the seeds of his lifelong passion for Notre Dame football were firmly rooted during his youth.
Jeff played football during his years at Portage Central High School, earning the nickname “White Knight” because his uniform was always impeccable especially his sparkling white pants. From the start, Jeff was particular about his appearance. He was always well coordinated, and his beard had to be just right. A very smart young man, Jeff proved a solid student. He was both naturally inquisitive and talented. He played guitar in a band playing cover songs with relish.
After graduating with the class of 1969, Jeff attended KVCC for a year. He then attended WMU for an additional year of general studies. After working several general jobs, he had the good fortune of being hired in at the food service department at the Upjohn Company. Jeff loved his job in the kitchen. He was well liked by his coworkers, and over the years he made many life-long friendships. He also enjoyed coaching the company’s women’s softball team for 14 years. In 1998, Jeff retired from the Upjohn Company.
Fortune blessed Jeff with the opportunity to meet the love of his life, Lynn, at work during the 1990s. They both bowled on the Upjohn league during and started dating in 1993. On July 13, 2001, the happy couple married in a small intimate ceremony in the comforts of their home, surrounded by their family.
Jeff’s joy in sharing his life with Lynn was even greater for the gift of sharing her children too. He especially cherished his role as grandfather and great-grandfather as he had not had children of his own. He adored the kids and loved sharing any moment he could with them. Whether sharing a sleepover or watching a ball game together, life was sweetest in one another’s good company. Jeff went on lots of trips with the kids. The trips usually involved attending sporting events and concerts. He even got a limo to take the kids to a concert once.
An unwavering Notre Dame fan, Jeff proudly donned his blue and gold and cheered on the Fighting Irish with passion. He especially enjoyed their football games and even traveled to Hawaii in 1997 to watch them play.
When not cheering on the Irish, Jeff could be found giving his support to Jeff Gordon and NASCAR, the Detroit Lions, or the K-Wings. A season pass holder for years, Jeff created many a treasured memory attending Wings’ games. Jeff and Lynn enjoyed many memorable trips to Las Vegas where they both enjoyed all the excitement the strip had to offer. Jeff loved watching March Madness and golf tournaments. His entire basement was all about sports and memorabilia; so many great games were played on his pinball and slot machines, as well as the poker and pool tables. Jeff possessed a wealth of knowledge which came in handy when playing trivia. He was a great trivia player and often after knowing some random fact, he expressed with a smile, “I just have lots of useless information!”
A man who loved the simple things in life, Jeff had a special love for pizza, hamburgers, and all junk food. As Lynn would head out the door for the store, Jeff would call out to her, “Get me Vitamin C!” Which was code for the 3C’s: Coke, Candy, and Coors. He loved old country music and the songs of John Berry, which he delighted in sharing with his grandkids. He also enjoyed being a part of “the food crew” any time the family gathered; he always went all out, ensuring great eats and good times. Jeff was also a great handyman who was never afraid of a challenge or lending his time and talents in service of others.
Even in the face of Life’s greatest challenges, Jeff maintained his good humor and devotion to his family. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s 23 years ago, Jeff fought a long hard battle. His determination was fortified by the love he and Lynn shared. Lynn was his rock and wanted to be able to take care of her. During the past few years, as the disease progressed, Jeff feared leaving her. Yet, ever the clown, he carried on each day with his special tradition of blessing Lynn with his custom phrase, “Be safe my queen.”
While it is difficult to imagine life in the absence of Jeff’s bright spirit, may it afford comfort to know he is free from pain and that we carry the gifts of his life in our hearts. Each time we “...cheer with voices true,” enjoy a cold Coke, push through a challenge with laughter, or create a great meal for a family gathering, we celebrate Jeff’s legacy of love. In so doing, he will continue to inspire others as he so inspired us.
Geoffrey “Jeff” Gibson, of Galesburg, age, 67, died May 29, 2019, in the comforts of his home. He was preceded in death by his parents and by a brother-in-law, Mike Klein. Proudly carrying his legacy forward include his beloved wife of 18 years, Lynn Gibson; Lynn’s children: Tammi (Ernie) Voight, Brian Echtinaw (Amanda Edick); many treasured grandchildren and great-grandchildren; sister, Patti Klein; and niece and nephew: Jared (Laura) Klein and Ashley Klein. Visit with family and friends on Monday (June 3rd) from 5-7PM at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900 where services will be held Tuesday 2PM. Burial will take place at Riverside Cemetery. Please visit Jeff’s personal web page at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com, where you can read his story, archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Please wear sports attire for services. Memorial contributions may be made directed to the family.