not forgotten . . .

Jeff Gibson

hometown - 06.09.2012

Eulogy spoken by Bob Gangwer at Jeff's services

I am honored to stand here today, chosen to be the one to say a few things about Jeff. Let me begin by publicly extending the heartfelt condolences to the Gibson family from those in the Gangwer family that couldn't be here. I have also been asked to pass along condolences from Michael Barnes, Danette Ray, Pat and Terry Strong. Jimmy Ferlito, and Jeff and Linda Bloom. They have all asked me to pass long their love for you and want you to know that their hearts are heavy for the grief you all must bear and are sorry that they could not be here in person.

Having never been asked to do something like this before, I hope you will bear with me if it all sounds a bit discombobulated. I may be ok on the mic talking about supers but this is all new territory to me. And while I am sure there are many others better suited to doing what I am about to, I've found through the 25 and some odd years that I've known this family that of all families, you don't tell the Gibsons you can't or don't know how and when asked to do something you'd better do it quick and right the first time or be looking for a trailer to duck behind.

In fact, bearing witness to those words just spoken. let me share one of the first experiences I had with Jeff. It must have been around the late 80s and we were at Winchester. I had stooged around for Willie Stutzman for a few years, probably being more of a hinderance than help as a kid living in the same town. In the meantime I had also started to sell photos to the racers, including Gene Lee.

Now on this particular day I was hanging around in Gene's pits and in the course of the feature he got into a jingle. He came in and right away the Gibson crew went to work. I stepped up thinking that there was something I could do to help. Todd, w/out even looking up told me to get some wire ties to strap the belly pan back up. Now I doubt that he even knew who I was, and it was just taking care of the business at hand.

Off I went running like a nut back to the toolbox, thinking that this was my chance to make the Gibsons proud of me. I pulled open the drawer that I was certain contained the ties and wouldn't ya know they weren't there. So I opened another, no ties there either. By the time I got the third drawer open and realized with a sinking heart that my opportunity to please a family of heroes was fleeting, Todd appeared out of nowhere, said a few choice words that made me question my manhood, "graciously" helped me to the side, pulled out one of the same drawers I had looked in, grabbed a handful of ties and ran back to the car.

Gene got pushed back out and everyone walked back to the pit stall. I said nothing, and held no ill will towards anyone for what had happened, but the look of self pity must have been plainly obvious. Brother Jeff walked over to me, a guy he really didn't know, and said, "ahh don't worry about it, THAT was nothin" I felt a little better and ya know I never really thought anything more of it. That is until I happened to find out that the whole scene was caught on ESPN. Oh the wonders of television. I have to say though, my mullet looked really good that day!

My point here is that from that day on, I guess that I came to realize that Jeff, as filled with Gibson determination as he was, tended to be more like the duck that let's the water roll off his back. He always seemed, to me, even in the most heated intense moments or interactions with any of us, to be the one that would be the first to let it go and come back with a smile.

He always struck me as the guy who went out of his way to lend a hand. Sacrificing his own desires to compete in order to help his family. He finally got his chance to compete in a supermodified and I'll never forget the day I found out he had purchased one.

I was on my way to a race somewhere west of Sandusky and called Gene Lee to say we we're flyin by the RT250 exit off of RT2. He said "get over here to the garage" I said dude, I hafta get on down the road. Have I mentioned already that when asked...uhh TOLD to do something by a Gibson, that you do it? So up 250 I went. I pulled up to the garage and the usual suspects were there. Redd, Scotty, Homey, probably even Hippy. But there was Gene and surprisingly there was Gup. More surprisingly there was another supermodified sitting in the shop. I said to Gene Lee...Whaddya crazy? He pointed to his brother standin off in the corner and said no, but HE is.

I walked over to Jeff and he stood there like a proud pappa. I looked at him then at the car then back at him and he had this sheepish grin on his face, in fact it kinda reminded me of Opie when Andy was about to admonish him for doing something wrong, and he says to me, well Bobby I guess I'm not much smarter than the rest of em after all. We had a chuckle and immediately started to pour over the car that's sitting nearf the doors you walked through today. Making plans, imagining the possibilities, smiling, laughing, joking, but always knowing that it was a truly special moment and well worth the extra time it took from our planned trip.

In that moment he also showed another fine trait, humility. He didn't have any grand plans of how he would go out and demolish the field and was willing to listen to everyone's ideas about what should be done to the car. This was the same humility that he showed after winning a race in his sprint car. Even in victory lane Jeff, while usually having a huge smile, was always humble about how he got there. He savored the moment and savored the spoils after but he never bragged about his success, he just quietly enjoyed them.

I think Jeff would have been a perfect recipient of the Dion Parish Memorial Perseverance Award. He did the best he could with the time and money he had available and he was always willing to help his fellow man.

I look out amongst his friends and family gathered here today and I see several former recipients of that award and ya know what? You all have several but one prominent thing in common, not only with each other, but with Jeff. You love life and understand what the truly important things are in the life that you love. You realize that it's a privilege to be able to do what you love to do, but like Jeff, you understand that racing isn't what defines you.

You get that you may have a bad day at the track, but that it's not as important as being concerned about the good day your kids or family had at work or school. You comprehend, as Jeff did, that regardless of what the world throws at you, a rough day, at the track or anywhere, you always have the love of your family to fall back on. Those traits are part of the reason why those of you that have received the Dion Parish Memorial Perseverance Award were chosen to recieve it. Because like Jeff, you stand out as an example of one that understands what is truly important in life. We could all do so well as to live by your's and Jeff's example.

I believe that in Jeff's small ways, he lived his life as an example of how we should all feel and how we should all treat each other.

Surely he had his moments of self doubt and struggle, and he made some bad choices, we all do. But at the end of the day, he loved. He loved his beautiful daughters. He loved his wife. He loved his son. He loved and respected his mother and father and certainly he loved you Gene, Larry and Deb. He showed us that its ok to work hard, be focused, have goals, and even occasionally have an argument. Shoot, it's probably safe to say that when the Gibson brothers were having a tiff it was simply a show of affection towards one another.

Jeff, while never afraid to kick back and have a good time with friends around the campfire or partake in a spirited round of cornhole with family and friends, remained a hard workin man doing the best he could to provide and care for his lovely girls and son.

Jeff loved his girls so much that he honored them by racing as number 3. I hope you three fine ladies and young man understand, that while you and I may not know each other on a deeply personal level, your father's conversations with me, more often than not turned to talk of you kids. Actually it was more like bragging than talking and I had a hard time getting a word in edge-wise about my own three wonderful rug rats.

More importantly, Jeff showed us how to have strong, meaningful, real lasting relationships with one another. That is what I think should be remembered as his lasting legacy.

Author Ruth Renkel wrote: "Often times it is the poorest man that leaves the richest inheritance." I am sure that as I stand before you all today, Jeff certainly left a rich inheritance to us all. It is up to us to embrace it and carry it forward.

Another wise old sage once wrote-"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal."

The fact that we are here right now means OUR journey continues-We still have a chance to get it right kinda like Jeff did. Do something great! Lift someone up, be strong enough to follow Jeff's example and honor his memory by loving and caring for each other after we leave here today. Grieve for our son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, and friend. Do not forget his mark on this world in the time he was given by our good and gracious God. Most importantly though cherish the memories that Jeff gave us because he loved us.

God Speed Gup.

  . . . spoken by Bob Gangwer at Jeff's services





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