John Gibson is gone but not forgotten

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John Gibson was a fighter.

“He was always a gentleman and he always a chief,” says his loving wife, Jean.

When she talks about her late husband, the man she spent 66 years of her life with, you can detect the admiration. She misses him every day.

John died at Huntsville District Memorial Hospital on October 13, 2014 from multiple myeloma, a type of cancer formed by malignant plasma cells. It’s a disease he suffered from as a result of a lifetime spent as a firefighter. He served in North York and he and Jean planted new roots in Dwight when he retired. They then relocated to Huntsville in 2000.

Jean says it was a real honour to be part of a special ceremony in Toronto that honoured her late husband’s work as a dedicated firefighter.

“He spent seven weeks in the hospital before he died,” says Jean. “John was a fighter. He put up a great fight.”

John’s dedication to the North York Fire Department recently earned him some well-deserved recognition. On October 1, Jean travelled to Queens Park in Toronto where a special ceremony was held by the Fallen Firefighters Association. It was there, in front hundreds of people, that John’s name was engraved on a provincial firefighters’ memorial wall.

To be part of that was a real honour, says Jean.

“They called his name and rang the fire bell three times because that’s the last bell. It was wonderful.”

 

Jean called the ceremony an emotional tribute to those who have dedicated their lives to fighting flames.

It was a feeling of he deserved it. He loved his job. He was a platoon chief in the fire department and he loved the men he worked with. He was also a great father. He was a people person. He was kind and caring but he wasn’t a wimp. He had a backbone. I don’t think you could find anyone who will say anything bad about him. He was a good man.

John underwent chemotherapy at Huntsville Hospital for his cancer, which was in his blood and bones. He battled the disease for close to 10 years before he died. But even during his chemo rounds at the hospital, every three weeks he would drop off cookies Jean had baked to Hospice Huntsville.

“Nobody there even knew me until he died,” she says with a laugh. “At first I went to chemo with him. Then he said he didn’t need me and he would drop off the cookies on his way to chemo. That was just something he wanted to do. He was a sweet man.”

John had a love for painting. He promised his wife he would paint a picture of poppies for her and a few weeks before he died he fulfilled that promise. Jean sent a card with the image to the lieutenant governor after her speech moved Jean to tears at the ceremony.

Once John was discharged from serving in the army in WWII, he became a firefighter and that became a job he devoted his entire life to. He was also a lay minister for the United Church as well as a member of the Dwight Lions Club.

“He had a full life,” says Jean. “He did a lot of things.”

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8 Comments

  1. I worked in Station#3 Emery Hall with John when he was a Captain from 1964-69 . He was always a gentle man in a job that took its toll on many Firefighters. He was a man that never backed away from the task at hand. He also served as councilor for a few years in Franklin Ward, Township of Lake of Bays and was the primary person in getting the Dwight Community Centre built.

  2. Ches and I first met John in the later years of his life when he and Jean lived in a condo in town, as did we. He was always a gentleman, love and respected by all who knew him. He was a great supporter of the Huntsville Legion, which was our main contact with John & Jean. I recall the year he read In Flanders Fields for the Legion Remembrance Day Service. I have never heard it read with as much meaning before or after. The girls on the bar fairly loved him! John’s flashy suspenders were always an interest point! His art work was important to him, and he was very proud of his work with the North York Fire Department. He and Jean volunteered with the Dwight Lions as long as they were able to. A truly wonderful man!

  3. Eunice Robertson on

    What a beautiful tribute to your wonderful man, Jean. I did not have privilege of meeting either one of you until John was not well. We had a delightful chat at a Legion dinner. So pleased for you he was honoured in such a wonderful way.

  4. Something that some might not know about John was he was at a talented artist, I saw many of his fine work when he would come to North Art to frame his work. He was a pleasure to talk to at any time we met and he always had a smile on his face and a happy demeanour. He was a nice guy

    • Yes ! JOHN was a gentleman , LOVED HIS GOLF @ STRATHCONA GOLF CLUB . ( MEN’s Night ) ,@HUNTSVILLE’s favourite FARNSWORTH’s. Farmlands made for avide golfers 🏌..”loved his golf & made a lot of new local friends .👏🏻👏🏻👍🏻RIP ,JOHN 🙏🏻.

  5. A lovely tribute and an honour, both very well deserved. John Gibson was truly a gem of a man and my life is richer for having known him.

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