Edward Gibson, Sr.

Obituary of Edward Gibson, Sr.

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On Tuesday, 6 January 2015, Edward Lewis Gibson, Sr., M.D. passed away at the age of 82. He was surrounded by family and had recently been in touch with many colleagues and friends. Born June 6, 1932, Dr. Gibson grew up in Chicago, IL. He was the son of Mildred M. and Harry H. C. Gibson, an insurance executive, attorney and member of the Chicago Bar Association. He was also the grandson of Truman K. "TK" Gibson, Sr., who was a graduate of Harvard Business School, founder of the Supreme Life Insurance Company of America, mentor to John Johnson of Johnson Publishing and an early investor in Johnson Products and Ebony/Jet publications. TK maintained a close friendship with W.E.B. DuBois as part of a well-established, but at that time thinly publicized population of well-educated, accomplished African-American leaders dubbed the "Talented Tenth" by Dr. DuBois. Dr. Gibson studied chemistry at the University of Illinois, earning a Bachelor's of Science in 1953. He went on to Howard Medical School, graduating in 1957. Following medical school, Dr. Gibson served in the United States Air Force as a Captain and Flight Surgeon. Upon fulfilling his service requirements and receiving an honorable discharge, Dr. Gibson was selected to join Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons as Associate Professor of Anesthesiology. At Columbia and in collaboration with several colleagues, Dr. Gibson conducted research on blood-gas chemistry and anesthetics helping to improve the efficacy of anesthetic compounds. From Columbia, Dr. Gibson was selected to join the Department of Anesthesiology at The Medical Center of Princeton moving there with his family in 1967. Within a year he was elevated to Department Chairman. He was the first African American physician to join the Medical Center's staff. Starting with a team of nurse anesthetists and one anesthesiologist, Dr. Gibson built the Department into a full-fledged state-of-the-art anesthesiology facility, including selection and recruitment of numerous physicians. Additionally, Dr. Gibson was instrumental in establishing and developing The Medical Center's Surgery Center. Along the way, Dr. Gibson mentored several junior physicians, staff and colleagues, many of whom continue to speak favorably about their early career experiences under his leadership. He also earned the respect not only of his physician colleagues by continuing to share equally in emergency call rotation throughout his career, but he was widely respected as a friendly and accessible physician to members of the broader hospital staff and medical community. In Princeton and neighboring communities, too, Dr. Gibson developed a reputation and rapport with Princeton-area first responders, frequently personally seeing to and monitoring their medical care. Upon his retirement in November 2002, Dr. Gibson continued to remain involved with the Medical Center, attending its Board meetings and advising the next generation of Anesthesiology Department leadership. Among the signature accomplishments of Dr. Gibson's career, perhaps the most notable is his professional legacy. Dr. Gibson created a first-rate department of anesthesiology at a regional medical center in a community that was initially not always that welcoming to its hospital's first African American physician. Through competence, hard-work, commitment and integrity, he demonstrated not only that it could be done, but that it could be done well, with distinction. In doing so, Dr. Gibson bore out the dream and claim of his grandfather, T.K., Dr. Dubois and his parents that talent of any color, race, creed or hue could assume its rightful place of leadership in American life, and so set a standard for others to follow. In his private life, Dr. Gibson cultivated a variety of interests. Among them he studied the German language, enjoyed traveling and took numerous trips, both domestic and abroad with his wife, Nannette. A lifelong animal lover and outdoorsmen, Dr. Gibson was known to maintain a wide variety of pet animals, and to enjoy camping, hiking and deep-sea fishing. He also loved music from various genres including jazz, opera, classical and pop. And, he liked to cook. A self-described "foodie," any and all fortunate enough to sample Dr. Gibson's cooking will know that his special insights into chemistry informed his talent for cooking. From scrambled eggs to seafood paella to gumbo to turkey soup to beef tenderloin, many can recall the subtlety, uniqueness of flavors and wonderful combinations with which he infused each creation. It may be no surprise to know that, subsequent to medical school, Dr. Gibson enrolled in cooking school. In contrast, it may surprise many who knew him to learn that Dr. Gibson, ever curious about and engaged in the world around him, earned a lay ministry degree through correspondence with the University of the South. In retirement, Dr. Gibson volunteered with Master Gardeners of New Jersey, offering advice and expertise to others who shared his passion for cultivating a variety of decorative and edible plants. He also literally lent his voice to Recording for the Blind by helping to create audiobooks for the visually impaired. Additionally, he was a member of Sigma Pi Phi, Mu Boulé Chapter. Dr. Gibson is survived by his wife of fifty-eight years, Nannette, his three children, a son-in-law, and three grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in his memory to The Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 529, Princeton, NJ 08542-0529 and The Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., 40 Rector Street, 5th floor, New York, NY 10006. A memorial service in honor of Dr. Gibson will be held on March 28, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. EDT at Trinity Church, 33 Mercer Street, Princeton, New Jersey, ph. (609) 924-2277. Friends, family, colleagues and other well-wishers can send condolences, request further information or RSVP to ELGsrMemorial@gmail.com.
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