It is with great regret and sorrow that we must notify you of the death of our
Classmate, Frank, aka Hoot/Gibby, on January 24, 2016, in Tustin, CA suddenly
after a massive heart attack.
Frank is survived by his wife,
Barbara; sons, Francis and his wife Kim, Donald and his wife Gaylen, and Craig
and his wife Ellen; and 10 grandchildren, Hayden, Gabrielle, Kate, Sara, Gunner,
Anne, Charleigh, Thomas, Rylee and Reagan.
A Celebration of Life will be
held at 11 AM, Saturday, February 4, 2017, at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 13922
Prospect Avenue, Santa Ana, CA. Reception to follow.
Condolences may be sent to
Barbara at 13362 Flint Drive, Santa Ana, CA
In lieu of flowers, the family
asks that donations in Frank’s memory be sent to West Point Association of
Graduates - friends of Army Football, memory of Frank Gibson, 698 Mills Road,
West Point, NY 10996 or
Orange County Veteran's Court - Collaborative Courts FDT, P.O. Box 633, Laguna
Beach, CA 92652 - in Memory of Frank Gibson.
Frank. Be thou at peace.
Class Memorial Pages\B-1 Frank Gibson.pdf
Frank was as best freind for over 63 years
I Will miss him beyond Words may God bless his whole family. We all loved him
The class of BHS 1957 Will keep him in our hearts and minds forever
Prays go out to Barbara, Boomer, Donald, Craig, and his entire family.
Francis (Frank) Lee Gibson was born
April 1, 1939 in Bellaire, Ohio to parents James and Anna Gibson. His
parents shaped his extraordinary life; his father James was killed in a
Powhatan Mine fire when he was 5 years old; his mother Anna was a school
teacher for 46 years at Glencoe Elementary.
He attended Bellaire High School in Bellaire, Ohio where he excelled as a
student and all-around athlete in which he received 9 letters (3 in
football, basketball, and track) and is a member of the Ohio High School
Football Hall of Fame. Very few of his peers escaped the coal mines and
steel mills of Eastern Ohio.
He then attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York,
a decision that would forever shape his life and one that he cherished
deeply. While at West Point he starred in Baseball and Football. He was on
the last undefeated football team in 1958, 3-year letterman and was the
Co-Captain of the 1961 football team. In 1961, Frank graduated with a
Bachelor of Science in Engineering. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant.
He completed his education with a Master's degree from Georgia Tech.
After graduation, his Army career was "Second to None". He attended Airborne
and Ranger training before being called to Vietnam in 1966. He was an
Airborne Ranger with the 101st Airborne unit, commanded a company in
Vietnam, commanded battalions in Vietnam and Korea. He also taught at the
Command and General Staff College, Pentagon and Bethesda Think Tank, and
also did two coaching tours on the West Point Football Staff over his 20
years of service in the Military. He was a Decorated Officer, being awarded
the Legion of Merit; Bronze Star Medal (2); Meritorious Service Medal; Air
Medal; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Army Commendation Medal; National
Defense Service Medal; Vietnam Service Medal (7 Campaigns); Republic of
Vietnam Campaign Medal; Parachutist Badge; Meritorious Unit Commendation,
Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Gold Star, Ranger Tab.
He married the love of his life, Barbara Ann Tanis from New Jersey, whom he
met on a blind date; they have been married for 52 years. After many
military assignments they eventually settled with their three children in
1981 in Orange, California. He was a successful Real Estate and Mortgage
Broker. His three sons played football at the University of Arizona and
University of Southern California; Frank and Barbara traveled coast to coast
never missing a game.
In 2010, Frank and Barbara moved to Tustin, California where he lived the
remainder of his life. He loved to give back to the community which was so
great to him. He was a mentor at the Combat Veterans Superior Court of
Orange County and was the founder of the military veteran's support group at
Trinity Presbyterian Church.
Frank was larger than life. He was a loyal and loving husband, supportive
and caring father, and was his grandchildren's favorite person, their Papa
or Papa Hooty. He found extreme Joy in all ten of them. He was a family man
with great integrity above and beyond everything else.
He loved God. He loved duck hunting and fishing with the "Judge" and his
many pals. He was always decked out with his favorite camouflage from head
to toe. He loved his football; ARMY football (and the reunions), Wildcat
football, Trojan football, Vanguard football and going to Orange County High
School games, he insisted on being on the sidelines where everyone loved
saying hello. He loved going to his 10 grandchildren's sporting events,
basketball, football, soccer, volleyball, etc. Whatever sport, he loved
spending time with them. He loved to golf with his many friends and church
group. All those that knew him loved him. He loved his many Labrador
retrievers. He loved to entertain his friends and family - BBQ Ribs were his
specialty. He was generous, kind and a great man of character. He was happy.
He had a blessed life and was loved dearly. The world is a smaller place
Frank will be tremendously missed by his family and friends, but he will
never be forgotten, his Legacy will be felt forever and ever. He was our
Frank is survived by his wife, Barbara Gibson; his children: Francis Gibson
Jr. (Kimberly), Donald Gibson (Gaylen) and Craig Gibson (Ellen); his
grandchildren: Hayden, Gabrielle, Gunner, Kate, Sara, Anne, Charleigh,
Thomas, Rylee and Reagan; his brother James (Iola) and by his uncle Edward
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Frank's memory be sent
to West Point Association of Graduates – Friends of Army Football, memory of
Frank Gibson, 698 Mills Road West Point, NY 10996 or Orange County Veteran's
Court – Collaborative Courts FDT P.O. Box 633 Laguna Beach, CA 92652 – in
Memory of Frank Gibson.
Services to be held at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Santa Ana, CA 11:00 AM
Saturday, February 4th.
Published in Orange County Register on Feb. 1, 2017
L. GIBSON 1961
Cullum No. 23583-1961 | January 24, 2017 | Died in Santa Ana, CA
Cremated. Inurned at West Point Cemetery, NY
Born April 1, 1939, Francis Lee Gibson came to West Point’s Class of 1961 from
the coal mining country of eastern Ohio. His father, James, died in the Powhatan
Coal Mine Fire of 1944, and Frank and his older brother, Jim, were raised by
their mother, Anna. Frank grew up in Glencoe, OH, where he attended Bellaire
High School and was an excellent student and star athlete.
In this remembrance, he’ll be called “Frank.” He would tell you his mother was
the one person who ever called him Francis. Only a few others dared. But he went
by many other names bestowed by friends and family: Hoot, Gibby, Gibber, Papa
Hooty, and the Legend. A respected source tells us that nicknames are “a form of
endearment and amusement.” That fits Frank precisely.
He was dearly loved: The president of the Class of 1961 declared succinctly,
“Gibby was simply one of the very best members of our Class. SECOND TO NONE.”
Another classmate put it more colloquially, “The big gorilla should have been
voted best all-around in the class.”
And Frank basked in humor: The stories are legion as to how his nicknames were
bestowed. Often, they arose from participation with friends and family in
activities he enjoyed immensely: sports of all kinds and especially football,
bird hunting and golf. And he loved jokes and funny stories. When you saw that
twinkle in his eyes, you knew something he thought very humorous, often about
himself, was about to be revealed. To be included in those moments was very
But beware of the Gibson glare. An immense man, considering both his physical
stature and surrounding aura, he projected his distastes for boorish behavior,
disloyalty and other sins of character with a look that would make the
faint-hearted cringe and search for the nearest exit. But that was usually all
that was needed. Except on the football field, he was always the kindest,
gentlest giant you ever met. Ask his wife, sons and grandkids on whom he doted
without reservation. On the football field he was regarded as a true sportsman
by teammates and opponents. He played the game with passion, devotion and
A good student who graduated in the middle of his class, Frank’s cadet years
will always be remembered most for his contributions to Army athletics. Frank
was an intimidating pitcher on the Army Baseball Team, but his legacy as an Army
athlete rests with his time on the football field, where he was a member of one
of the best varsity programs in the country for three years. The excellence of
his talent and athleticism is easily appreciated when one recalls that he played
both offense and defense, manning skill positions like quarterback and receiver
as well as being one of the the guys slogging away in the trenches. He was a
member of Army’s undefeated 1958 team, the last team coached by the great Red
Blaik, and Frank’s leadership abilities were reflected by his selection as
co-captain in his last year, one of the greatest honors a West Point cadet can
At graduation, Frank was commissioned in the Artillery branch, in which he
served during his first tour in Vietnam. His experiences there led him to
transfer into the Transportation Corps branch, in which he served for the
remainder of his distinguished military career. His career included a company
command in Vietnam, battalion commands in Vietnam and Korea, teaching
assignments at the Command and General Staff College, and two appointments as an
assistant football coach at Army. His accomplishments were recognized by many
awards and decorations, including the Legion of Merit and two Bronze Star
Medals. He also earned a master’s degree from Georgia Tech. Lieutenant Colonel
Gibson retired in 1981 and then began a very successful second career in real
estate in southern California.
Of all his great lifetime achievements, nothing exceeded those of husband and
parent. He met Barbara, his soulmate, on a blind date during his first coaching
assignment at West Point, and they married in 1964. Three sons—Francis Jr.
(Boomer), Donald, and Craig—soon joined the family and followed in their
father’s football footsteps. All became outstanding Division I college football
players, Boomer at Arizona and Donald and Craig at USC. The sons also followed
their parents’ lead by marrying well and raising talented kids who have achieved
distinction as students, both athletically and as scholars. The big difference
with this group is that many are fine young women of whom Barb and Frank have
been very proud and mightily enjoyed following all over the country to support
their athletic and other pursuits.
In an exciting life of unending adventures, Frank never lost sight of who he was
and where he came from. He remained close to his family, classmates, teammates
and a vast array of friends accumulated as easily as most people acquire bad
habits. He loved sharing the experiences that give life meaning and joy. Those
of us who participated in these experiences cherished his loyalty and support.
We also knew that if anything awful befell us, our families could count on Frank
being there without reservation to help pick up the pieces. Which often he did.
Frank left us on January 24, 2017. This piece is but a brief description of a
man who was bigger than life, who blotted out the sun, and in whose shadow we
were privileged to stand. You blessed us Frank and may God bless you.
— William Esselstein ’61, with many contributions from Frank’s