USAF MSG Bill Gibson And A Loving Legacy

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Bill Gibson, known affectionately to his family as “Paw,” slipped on home in January during the great freeze of 2024. His wife, Leonel, was by his side, and he was buried with all proper military honor and decorum. He had served in Korea and Vietnam, and retired as a master sergeant. It has taken from January until now for me to get to the place where I could write about him, and I want Athens Now readers to know about what I call his “loving legacy.”

What was said about him officially is as follows:

William “Bill” Gibson, 89 of Athens, passed away on Friday, January 19, 2024, at Floyd E “Tut” Fan Veteran’s Home. Mr. Gibson was born on April 15, 1934, in Cool Springs, Kentucky, to Woodard and Lula Hensley Gibson.

Mr. Gibson is survived by his wife Leonel White; children Alexas McGee, John David McGee, Skyler McGee, Dale Gibson (Armie), David Gibson (Donna), and Deborah Kauffman (Richard); step-daughter Brittany Harper (George); 11 grandchildren; 24 great-grandchildren; and 2 great-great-grandchildren.

He is preceded in death by his parents; wife Earline Faye Gibson; and sons Donald Lamar Miller and Clifford Darrell Gibson.

Bill grew up in Manchester, Kentucky, the youngest of 12 children. He joined the Air Force at 18, serving in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He retired after 21 years as a master sergeant. He was married to Faye for 50 years until her death 19 years ago. They had 5 children. They enjoyed camping, fishing, and hunting.

Bill has been married to Leonel White for 13 years, helping to raise their 3 grandchildren. Life was full of travel and enjoying things with young children. He has touched many lives. We have been blessed to have him in our lives.

However, my desire in this “All Things Soldier” column is to honor him for being a kind, appreciative, and simply loving man. He was always that to me, and I watched him, even as he was starting the long journey home, still fight hard to be that in the lives of his three adopted grandkids, Lexi, John David, and Skyler McGee.

These kids miss their Paw, Leonel misses her man, and I miss my friend. I know I will see him again; my faith and Father tell me so; yet there is heartache mixed with joy in the wait.

Last night, Lexi graduated from Athens High School, and the picture here illustrates when we “snuck” Bill into the Athens Stadium last fall for Homecoming in order to surprise her. And, surprise her we did. I will never forget the look of happy shock on her face, the tears of delight, and the fierce hugs. It was a night to remember always. And I wanted people who have served to know that long after one retires from the military or a career, there is nothing better than continuing to serve, and Bill did just that. Master Sgt. Gibson, thank you for your service, and see you soon!

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner