Robert W. Gibson
Robert W. Gibson
  • August 23, 1924 - August 30, 2014
  • Utica, Mississippi

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Robert Whitfield "Doby" Gibson

Robert Whitfield "Doby" Gibson, 90, passed away at home on August 30, 2014, surrounded by family and friends. Doby was a devoted family man, husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather with extensive family. He was a dedicated World War II combat soldier, civil servant, farmer, and athlete.
A Utica, Hinds County, Mississippi native, Doby grew up on a farm and attended Utica High School where he excelled in sports. The son of George Marion Gibson and Emma Adkins Gibson, he was the youngest of nine children, seven boys and two girls. In 1943 he entered the U.S. Army along with five of his brothers, all of whom returned home safely to their mother's six stars on her front door, representing her sons' service during World War II. Doby served as a Staff Sergeant in the 279th Engineer Combat Battalion. The 279th landed at Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, in October 1944, dismantled enemy defenses, removed unexploded ordnance, and cleared supply routes inland of debris, obstructions, and mines while also being engaged in significant combat action, including the December 1944 Battle of the Bulge. In 1945, under the command of General William Simpson, 9th Army, the 279th repaired and built roads and bridges to allow U.S. troops to cross the Roer and Rhine Rivers into the interior of Germany, all the way to the fall of Berlin and the surrender of Nazi Germany. Under the command of General George Patton, U.S. Army of Occupation, Doby and members of the 279th continued to serve during the initial rebuilding of Germany. Doby was injured during the Roer River crossing, February 25th, 1945, when German "88" shells from Nazi infantry forces exploded near him, causing significant hearing damage and concussions, but he was back with the 279th after only 19 days in a field hospital. Serving until 1946, Doby was cited with several medals including the Battle of the Bulge, the American Campaign, two battle stars, and a Good Conduct medal. Although it certainly was day to day warfare on the move in Germany, in the few opportunities they had for recreation during training time, Doby was selected by his Battalion to the U.S. Armed Forces all-tournament basketball team. After the war in 1947, Doby married Frances Morrison who grew up on a large farm in nearby Carpenter/ Dentville. They established their home in Jackson rearing four sons. Following eight years with the Coca Cola Bottling Company in Jackson, Doby was recruited personally by the Postmaster of the U.S. Postal Service, and served thirty years as a letter carrier in Jackson, retiring in 1984. He was elected by fellow employees as a delegate to the National Association of Letter Carriers' conventions in Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, Seattle, and New Orleans. Doby was an avid sports fan and supporter of Mississippi State University where three of his sons graduated. He also supported the Jackson Senators, Jackson Mets, and Jackson Generals, major league baseball affiliate teams. Doby played on one of the first baseball teams of the City of Jackson Recreation Department and later became well known as an umpire. He coached his Leavell Woods United Methodist Church basketball team to the city championship of church leagues and the team went on to compete in several regional tournaments. More recently he became a season ticket supporter of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and rarely missed a game while residing part-time in Pensacola. He was selected to serve as a Colonel on the staff of Mississippi Governor John Bell Williams in the late 1960's. Doby and his late wife, Frances, invested in real estate in the early 1970's and established Gibson Properties. They enjoyed forty-three happy years together and were devoted first to their family, especially proud of their four sons' accomplishments. They traveled extensively in the U.S., always accompanied by their sons on vacations from the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Carolinas to Washington, D.C., Niagara Falls, Canada, and especially New York City, Boston, Cape Cod, and all of New England. Along with sports they enjoyed exposing their sons to fine arts and culture, and furnishing their home with antiques. Following Frances' passing in 1990, Doby purchased a small farm near Utica in the Dentville/ Hoodtown community and later sold Gibson Properties and his home in northeast Jackson. In 1998 he married Virginia Howard Rasmussen of Pensacola, Florida, and they enjoyed traveling between Pensacola and the farm in Mississippi, accompanied often by their faithful companion, Duchess, the family's long-time beloved Shetland sheepdog. Doby and Virginia traveled to Europe on a World War II tour, as well as annually to the WWII Reunion of the 279th Engineer Combat Battalion held in Johnson City, TN. Spending time with their family as well as gardening and antiquing were highlights. Virginia became a cherished member of the Gibson family and a marvelous step-mom. She passed away in 2009. Doby continued to treasure his boys and times with their families. He continued attending the 279th reunions accompanied by his sons, their families, and family relative Bernice Morrison. In 2011 Doby and Bernice enjoyed an Alaskan cruise. In the fall of 2012 Doby traveled to Sweden and London accompanied by his oldest son Craig. His WWII experience is documented as an interview conducted by the curator of the National WWII Museum in New Orleans for their archives. His story and interview is also in the Library of Congress Veteran's History Project and featured locally in Jackson, MS, on NBC affiliate WLBT Doby and the family were very active in the Methodist church and later the Christian Science church along with late wives Frances and Virginia.
Doby's survivors include: one sister, Merdel Gibson Sarver of Florence; sons Craig R. Gibson of Dentville in Copiah County, MS, Mark W. Gibson (Candace) of Cantonment, FL, Robert W. "Bob" Gibson of Kilmichael, MS, and Dan M. Gibson (Cherie) of the Johns community near Brandon, MS; three grandsons, Dr. Philip L. Gibson (Dr. Kacey) of Gulf Breeze, FL, Dr. Cory W. Gibson (Olivia)