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Walter L. Gibson


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Walter L. Gibson, a distinguished veteran and respected Roswell leader, passed away on November 14, 2017 at age 97 in Reno, Nevada.
Gibson was an Air Force Colonel and civic leader who retired in Roswell after Walker Air Force Base closed in 1967.
Gibson was born on April 16, 1920 in Conconully, Washington.
After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Gibson was accepted into the Army’s Officer Candidate School. He flew fifty missions over Italy and North Africa as a bombardier before he was 23 years old. After that, he began his pilot training.
He served in the US Air Force for 20 years. His career as a professional pilot began by flying B-24s and then B-29s. He went on to become a B-52 pilot and Squadron Commander for the Strategic Air Command out of Walker Air Force Base in Roswell. As a cold warrior, he flew 24-hour missions with live H-bombs as part of the airborne leg of the nuclear triad with potential targets in both the Soviet Union and China. He retired from Walker as a Colonel.
After retirement, Gibson turned his energy and dedication from his country to his community. He served as the Executive Director to the Chavez County United Way from 1967 to 1977. Through his leadership and work both with Roswell business executives as Campaign Chairmen and with the Boards of Directors of the member agencies, he dramatically increased the United Way’s fundraising success. He was proud of the increase in services the agencies were able to provide to the community as a result.
In addition to his leadership at the United Way, over the years Gibson was a member of numerous organizations and boards. For example, he was a member of Rotary and he served on the Board of the Roswell Symphony. In addition, he was an active member of the First Presbyterian Church and served as an Elder.
Gibson used the fund raising prowess gained during his years with the United Way, and worked together with Stu Pritchard and Rogers Aston to raise funds for the design, production, and placement of the statue of John Chisum in Pioneer Plaza.
In 1948, Gibson married Viola M. Anderson. They were married for 27 years until she died. Walter and Vi had two children, Sara and Scott.
In 1979, Gibson married Jane Davisson. That marriage lasted 34 years until Jane died in 2013.
Gibson is survived by Sara who lives in San Antonio and her daughters Stephanie Henderson of Houston and Ashley Beech of Round Rock, Texas. Ashley and her husband Mike have three children, Evan, 8, Hannah, 5, and Leah, 1.
Gibson is also survived by his son Scott and his wife Mercedes of Reno. They have a daughter, Isabel who is 13.
Gibson was preceded in death by his parents Mary and Walter Gibson and his siblings: Carroll, Virginia, Lorraine, and Bernice, all of whom were younger than he.
A memorial service will be held at the First Presbyterian Church early next year.

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