Daniel Gibbs, 97

WWII vet, pole vaulter, enjoyed fishing and golf

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Daniel S. Gibbs, 97, of Oak Park, died on April 14, 2013. Born on Jan. 17, 1916 in Colorado, he was put on a train by his parish priest after high school and headed to South Bend, Ind., to attend Notre Dame University, where he earned a degree in science in 1938 and competed on the track team. He was the 1937 Drake Relay Pole Vault champion and qualified for the 1940 Olympics in the broad jump and pole vault.

Pole vaulting at the time was a test of human endurance. Using a bamboo pole and landing on his feet with no pads, he ranked second in the nation at the end of the 1930s. At a dual meet, he scored a single point as an underclassman and was always proud to say that Notre Dame beat Ohio State and Jesse Owens that day.

World War II caused the cancellation of the Olympics, and Dan went on to join the Navy Air Corps at the start of the American involvement. As a carrier pilot, he participated in numerous Pacific campaigns, then returned to Oak Park, arriving the day before he married Rita Marie Dunigan at St. Edmund Church. He followed his father's footsteps as a registered pharmacist but went on to a very successful career in estate planning and insurance. He stayed with the Navy Reserve for nearly 20 years and retired at the rank of Lt. Commander.

At the time of his death, he was the longest-standing member of Butterfield Country Club. He loved golf and fishing at his wonderful lake house in Minocqua, Wis.

Daniel Gibbs is survived by his children, James (Lesley), Gregory (Jennifer), Mary Anne (Richard) Schram, John (Maureen), Patrick, and Michael (Sally); 23 grandchildren; 36 great-grandchildren; and his sisters, Margaret Hudspeth and Virginia Schemp. He was preceded in death by his wife, Rita; his son, Daniel (Mary Ellen); and his siblings, William and Mary Gibbs and Elizabeth McClintock. The family gratefully acknowledges the care and devotion of his caregiver, Donna Krupa.

As a member of the greatest generation, he went from the dirt sidewalks of his youth in Colorado to the heights of the pole vault to the skies over the Pacific. He will be greatly missed.

Visitation was held on April 18 and Mass on April 19 at St. Edmund Church, followed by interment at Mt. Carmel Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials to the church are appreciated. Arrangements were handled by Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home.


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Mary Helen Moore  

Posted: May 9th, 2013 10:08 PM

I attended grammar school with Jim and Dan was in my brother Mike's class. I am sorry for your loss. Mr. Gibbs had a long and happy life and deserves heaven. Take care! Mary Helen Moore

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