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Francis L. Gibson

Company B-1

1 Apr 1939 - 24 Jan 2017

Place of Death: Tustin, CA

Interment: TBD

It is with great regret and sorrow that we must notify you of the death of our Classmate, Frank, aka Hoot/Gibby, on January 24, 2016, in Tustin, CA suddenly after a massive heart attack.

Frank is survived by his wife, Barbara; sons, Francis and his wife Kim, Donald and his wife Gaylen, and Craig and his wife Ellen; and 10 grandchildren, Hayden, Gabrielle, Kate, Sara, Gunner, Anne, Charleigh, Thomas, Rylee and Reagan.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 11 AM, Saturday, February 4, 2017, at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 13922 Prospect Avenue, Santa Ana, CA.  Reception to follow.

Condolences may be sent to Barbara at 13362 Flint Drive, Santa Ana, CA  92705-1909.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Frank’s memory be sent to West Point Association of Graduates - friends of Army Football, memory of Frank Gibson, 698 Mills Road, West Point, NY  10996 or Orange County Veteran's Court - Collaborative Courts FDT, P.O. Box 633, Laguna Beach, CA  92652 - in Memory of Frank Gibson.

Well done, Frank.  Be thou at peace.


Class Memorial Pages\B-1 Frank Gibson.pdf

Frank was as best freind for over 63 years
I Will miss him beyond Words may God bless his whole family. We all loved him
The class of BHS 1957 Will keep him in our hearts and minds forever
Prays go out to Barbara, Boomer, Donald, Craig, and his entire family.

Gary Hill


Francis (Frank) Lee Gibson was born April 1, 1939 in Bellaire, Ohio to parents James and Anna Gibson. His parents shaped his extraordinary life; his father James was killed in a Powhatan Mine fire when he was 5 years old; his mother Anna was a school teacher for 46 years at Glencoe Elementary.

He attended Bellaire High School in Bellaire, Ohio where he excelled as a student and all-around athlete in which he received 9 letters (3 in football, basketball, and track) and is a member of the Ohio High School Football Hall of Fame. Very few of his peers escaped the coal mines and steel mills of Eastern Ohio.

He then attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, a decision that would forever shape his life and one that he cherished deeply. While at West Point he starred in Baseball and Football. He was on the last undefeated football team in 1958, 3-year letterman and was the Co-Captain of the 1961 football team. In 1961, Frank graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. He completed his education with a Master's degree from Georgia Tech.

After graduation, his Army career was "Second to None". He attended Airborne and Ranger training before being called to Vietnam in 1966. He was an Airborne Ranger with the 101st Airborne unit, commanded a company in Vietnam, commanded battalions in Vietnam and Korea. He also taught at the Command and General Staff College, Pentagon and Bethesda Think Tank, and also did two coaching tours on the West Point Football Staff over his 20 years of service in the Military. He was a Decorated Officer, being awarded the Legion of Merit; Bronze Star Medal (2); Meritorious Service Medal; Air Medal; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Army Commendation Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Vietnam Service Medal (7 Campaigns); Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal; Parachutist Badge; Meritorious Unit Commendation, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Gold Star, Ranger Tab.

He married the love of his life, Barbara Ann Tanis from New Jersey, whom he met on a blind date; they have been married for 52 years. After many military assignments they eventually settled with their three children in 1981 in Orange, California. He was a successful Real Estate and Mortgage Broker. His three sons played football at the University of Arizona and University of Southern California; Frank and Barbara traveled coast to coast never missing a game.

In 2010, Frank and Barbara moved to Tustin, California where he lived the remainder of his life. He loved to give back to the community which was so great to him. He was a mentor at the Combat Veterans Superior Court of Orange County and was the founder of the military veteran's support group at Trinity Presbyterian Church.

Frank was larger than life. He was a loyal and loving husband, supportive and caring father, and was his grandchildren's favorite person, their Papa or Papa Hooty. He found extreme Joy in all ten of them. He was a family man with great integrity above and beyond everything else.

He loved God. He loved duck hunting and fishing with the "Judge" and his many pals. He was always decked out with his favorite camouflage from head to toe. He loved his football; ARMY football (and the reunions), Wildcat football, Trojan football, Vanguard football and going to Orange County High School games, he insisted on being on the sidelines where everyone loved saying hello. He loved going to his 10 grandchildren's sporting events, basketball, football, soccer, volleyball, etc. Whatever sport, he loved spending time with them. He loved to golf with his many friends and church group. All those that knew him loved him. He loved his many Labrador retrievers. He loved to entertain his friends and family - BBQ Ribs were his specialty. He was generous, kind and a great man of character. He was happy. He had a blessed life and was loved dearly. The world is a smaller place without him.

Frank will be tremendously missed by his family and friends, but he will never be forgotten, his Legacy will be felt forever and ever. He was our HERO.

Frank is survived by his wife, Barbara Gibson; his children: Francis Gibson Jr. (Kimberly), Donald Gibson (Gaylen) and Craig Gibson (Ellen); his grandchildren: Hayden, Gabrielle, Gunner, Kate, Sara, Anne, Charleigh, Thomas, Rylee and Reagan; his brother James (Iola) and by his uncle Edward Bostancic (95).

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Frank's memory be sent to West Point Association of Graduates – Friends of Army Football, memory of Frank Gibson, 698 Mills Road West Point, NY 10996 or Orange County Veteran's Court – Collaborative Courts FDT P.O. Box 633 Laguna Beach, CA 92652 – in Memory of Frank Gibson.

Services to be held at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Santa Ana, CA 11:00 AM Saturday, February 4th.

Published in Orange County Register on Feb. 1, 2017

Taps Tribute:

Cullum No. 23583-1961 | January 24, 2017 | Died in Santa Ana, CA
Cremated. Inurned at West Point Cemetery, NY

Born April 1, 1939, Francis Lee Gibson came to West Point’s Class of 1961 from the coal mining country of eastern Ohio. His father, James, died in the Powhatan Coal Mine Fire of 1944, and Frank and his older brother, Jim, were raised by their mother, Anna. Frank grew up in Glencoe, OH, where he attended Bellaire High School and was an excellent student and star athlete.

In this remembrance, he’ll be called “Frank.” He would tell you his mother was the one person who ever called him Francis. Only a few others dared. But he went by many other names bestowed by friends and family: Hoot, Gibby, Gibber, Papa Hooty, and the Legend. A respected source tells us that nicknames are “a form of endearment and amusement.” That fits Frank precisely.

He was dearly loved: The president of the Class of 1961 declared succinctly, “Gibby was simply one of the very best members of our Class. SECOND TO NONE.” Another classmate put it more colloquially, “The big gorilla should have been voted best all-around in the class.”

And Frank basked in humor: The stories are legion as to how his nicknames were bestowed. Often, they arose from participation with friends and family in activities he enjoyed immensely: sports of all kinds and especially football, bird hunting and golf. And he loved jokes and funny stories. When you saw that twinkle in his eyes, you knew something he thought very humorous, often about himself, was about to be revealed. To be included in those moments was very special.

But beware of the Gibson glare. An immense man, considering both his physical stature and surrounding aura, he projected his distastes for boorish behavior, disloyalty and other sins of character with a look that would make the faint-hearted cringe and search for the nearest exit. But that was usually all that was needed. Except on the football field, he was always the kindest, gentlest giant you ever met. Ask his wife, sons and grandkids on whom he doted without reservation. On the football field he was regarded as a true sportsman by teammates and opponents. He played the game with passion, devotion and respect.

A good student who graduated in the middle of his class, Frank’s cadet years will always be remembered most for his contributions to Army athletics. Frank was an intimidating pitcher on the Army Baseball Team, but his legacy as an Army athlete rests with his time on the football field, where he was a member of one of the best varsity programs in the country for three years. The excellence of his talent and athleticism is easily appreciated when one recalls that he played both offense and defense, manning skill positions like quarterback and receiver as well as being one of the the guys slogging away in the trenches. He was a member of Army’s undefeated 1958 team, the last team coached by the great Red Blaik, and Frank’s leadership abilities were reflected by his selection as co-captain in his last year, one of the greatest honors a West Point cadet can achieve.

At graduation, Frank was commissioned in the Artillery branch, in which he served during his first tour in Vietnam. His experiences there led him to transfer into the Transportation Corps branch, in which he served for the remainder of his distinguished military career. His career included a company command in Vietnam, battalion commands in Vietnam and Korea, teaching assignments at the Command and General Staff College, and two appointments as an assistant football coach at Army. His accomplishments were recognized by many awards and decorations, including the Legion of Merit and two Bronze Star Medals. He also earned a master’s degree from Georgia Tech. Lieutenant Colonel Gibson retired in 1981 and then began a very successful second career in real estate in southern California.

Of all his great lifetime achievements, nothing exceeded those of husband and parent. He met Barbara, his soulmate, on a blind date during his first coaching assignment at West Point, and they married in 1964. Three sons—Francis Jr. (Boomer), Donald, and Craig—soon joined the family and followed in their father’s football footsteps. All became outstanding Division I college football players, Boomer at Arizona and Donald and Craig at USC. The sons also followed their parents’ lead by marrying well and raising talented kids who have achieved distinction as students, both athletically and as scholars. The big difference with this group is that many are fine young women of whom Barb and Frank have been very proud and mightily enjoyed following all over the country to support their athletic and other pursuits.

In an exciting life of unending adventures, Frank never lost sight of who he was and where he came from. He remained close to his family, classmates, teammates and a vast array of friends accumulated as easily as most people acquire bad habits. He loved sharing the experiences that give life meaning and joy. Those of us who participated in these experiences cherished his loyalty and support. We also knew that if anything awful befell us, our families could count on Frank being there without reservation to help pick up the pieces. Which often he did.

Frank left us on January 24, 2017. This piece is but a brief description of a man who was bigger than life, who blotted out the sun, and in whose shadow we were privileged to stand. You blessed us Frank and may God bless you.

— William Esselstein ’61, with many contributions from Frank’s wife