Gerald ("Gerry") Patrick Gibbons, 88, of Gurnee, IL, was born to eternal life in the early morning January 12, 2018 at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago, Illinois.
A Christmas baby, Gerry grew up on the Gibbons homestead in Wayside, Wisconsin, not far from Green Bay, with his parents, William (d. 1955) and Kathryn (d. 1993), and siblings, Jack (d. 2013), Don, Mary, and Bill (d. 1982). He attended St. Norbert College for two years and, after his military service, graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in mechanical engineering.
It was from the farm in Wisconsin that young Gerry witnessed Howard Hughes flying across the country, and, from that moment, his heart leapt forever into the skies. Gerry entered the United States Air Force in 1950, was assigned to Strategic Air Command and flew B-29s during the Korean conflict. After leaving active duty in 1953, he continued his service in the USAF Reserve until the early 1960s, achieving the rank of Captain, flying T-33s, F-80s and various transport aircraft. His engineering education and flight experience came together when he worked on a variety of spacecraft systems at Grumman Aerospace, most notably on LM-7 (aka 'Aquarius'), the lunar module of Apollo XIII, which famously saved the lives of Captain James Lovell and his crew. It was this connection that inspired a visit from Captain Lovell during Gerry's final weeks.
Flight was also the key to Gerry's courtship of Margaret "Peggy" Woods (d. 1998) of Brooklyn, NY. The soon-to-be Mr. & Mrs. Gibbons met while Gerry was exploring a possible career in commercial aviation while also fulfilling his required flight hours in the USAF Reserve, flying from Mitchell Field in Milwaukee to Mitchel Field in New York. The two were married in 1957, lived briefly in Middleton, WI; San Diego, and the Milwaukee area before ultimately settling in Lake Ronkonkoma, NY in the early 1960s. There, they raised their six children: Helen, Bill, Nora, Kathleen, Sean, and Gerry. He moved to Gurnee in 2014.
A man of few words, Gerry nonetheless had an exciting and full life. Beloved by his children, nine grandchildren, siblings-in-law, children-in-law and many friends and family, his interests ranged from the fairly tame to the intentionally dangerous: reading, deer hunting, riding his Harley, fixing up cars, and adopting dogs of all sizes. Gerry was the best of both the rebel and the family man: he kept his wicked sense of humor to the end, but his big heart would help a church in need of more ushers or a stranger by the side of the road.
Visitation at Warren Funeral Home (1475 N. Cemetery Rd, Gurnee) at 4-8 p.m. on Friday, January 19th. Mass at Church of Saint Patrick Catholic Church (15000 Wadsworth Rd, Wadsworth) at 2 p.m. on Saturday, January 20th; visitation in church from 1-2 p.m.
Special thanks to the staff at the Captain James A. Lovell FHCC for their compassionate care. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the FHCC for the benefit of their patients, our nation's heroes. Please make checks payable to the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center and mail them to:
Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center
Community Affairs (135)
3001 Green Bay Road, North Chicago, IL 60064
Donations to this or any other veterans organizations are also gratefully accepted. Please visit: https://www.lovell.fhcc.va.gov/giving/
"Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth... put out my hand and touched the face of God." - excerpt from'High Flight', by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
Friday, January 19th, 2018 4:00pm - 8:00pm, Warren Funeral Home
Saturday, January 20th, 2018 1:00pm - 2:00pm, St. Patrick's Catholic Church
Saturday, January 20th, 2018 2:00pm, St. Patrick's Catholic Church