Memorial services for Burchard Earl “Burt” Gibbs, 88, will be at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Asbury United Methodist Church, with the Rev. Randal Richards and the Rev. Tom Riley officiating.
Burt was born Dec. 26, 1925, in Peoria, Ill., to William Dean and Eva S. Housley Gibbs. The family moved to Chicago in 1928, where Burt grew up. He graduated from Parker High School in 1943. The following March, he entered the U.S. Army. With basic and technical training completed, he landed in England and then arrived at Metz, France, in early December 1944, just in time for the Battle of the Bulge. He fought in the battles of the Rhineland and Central Europe. Burt was awarded the Army of Occupation Medal for Germany, the Victory Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon, with two bronze battle stars, two overseas bars and the Good Conduct Medal. He was honorably discharged at the rank of Master Sergeant.
Returning home on June 2, 1946, he and his high school sweetheart, Betty Jane Buikema, were married on Oct. 12, 1946. They were blessed with the birth of a son, Dennis Earl, and a daughter, Judith Jane Gibbs. Betty preceded him in death following a train accident on Aug. 3, 1967.
In as much as Burt was a locomotive fireman before he entered the military, he returned to the Illinois Central Railroad as a fireman. Following doctor’s orders, he left the railroad and began working on the Chicago Surface Street Car Line as a laborer and later was promoted to helper and lineman. In 1952, Burt joined the staff at Swift and Company as a standard checker, and later was promoted to the time study department producing and writing standards for the standard checkers. During this time, he was introduced to Oliver Aspergren, owner of one of the largest insurance agency in the country. In 1960, he entered the life insurance industry as an agent, general agent and broker, followed by vice president and superintendent of agencies for the Ohio State Life Insurance Company, with a six-state territory and supervised 580 agents and general agents, and finally special assistant to the president.
In 1973, Burt moved to Great Bend, Kan., where he worked for Karlen Communications, a cable TV company. He was promoted to vice president and general manager, a position that was responsible for four cable systems in Great Bend, Hoisington, La Cross and Larned, Kan.; four cable TV systems in Slidel and Mandeville, La.; and a five-state microwave system supplying 147 cable systems. Late in 1973, he met Irma J. Akers; the following year, they married Aug. 29, 1974, and had recently celebrated 39 years together. They moved to Ardmore in 1994.
In February 1962, working on his own, Burt began assisting veterans in securing VA disability benefits, and in 2004, he became a certified service officer for the DAV, which provided a new vehicle to assist veterans in securing their benefits. He retired in 2010 after serving some 5,000-plus veterans in the Ardmore area and another 1,000-plus prior to moving to Ardmore.
Burt was a member of Asbury United Methodist Church, a life member of the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 30, member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4574, and was a member of American Legion Post 65. In 2003, Burt was named the Volunteer of the Year at the Ardmore Veterans Center, and in 2006 received the Service Officer Award from the Disabled American Veterans organization for the State of Oklahoma. He received three citations from Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield and three citations from Rep. Greg Piatt for outstanding volunteer service as a member of RSVP, and four citations for service with Vita-Volunteer Income Tax Service.
Burt was truly “one of the great ones of that famous greatest generation of Americans that fought for and helped build this nation during the 20th Century.” Following a full and adventurous life, surrounded by a loving family, Burt Gibbs passed away Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, at his residence in Ardmore.
Burt is survived by his wife, Irma; a son, Dennis Gibbs and wife, Linda, of Alsip, Ill.; his daughter, Judy Burton and husband, Larry, of Bonita Springs, Fla.; a son, Kenneth Patrick of Kansas; his brother, Louis Gibbs of Kansas City, Kan.; nine grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Robert Dean; and sisters Mary C. Banta and Hannah Tvorah.
The family requests that memorials be made to either Cross Timbers Hospice or to Asbury United Methodist Church.
Services and Cremation-With-Care are under the direction of Harvey-Douglas Funeral Home and Crematory. Memorial condolences to the family may be sent online at www.hdouglasfuneralhome.com.