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W. Joseph "Joe" Gibbs 1931-2019

W. Joseph "Joe" Gibbs died Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, at his home in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

Joe was born in Springfield to Ronald and Josephine Gibbs on April 23, 1931. He attended Blessed Sacrament Grade School and graduated from Springfield High School in 1949. He went on to attend Regis College in Denver, Colorado. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, serving abroad as an intelligence analyst, he continued his education at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. Joe graduated from Georgetown School of Law in 1958.

Joe was a practicing attorney in Springfield for 50 years. He started his career as assistant state's attorney. He also served as corporation counsel for the city of Springfield, as well as partner in the firm Sorling, Catron and Hardin, and co-founded the firm Gibbs and Green. Joe was given the highest rating as an attorney and was recognized by the Illinois State Bar Association for 50 years of honorable law practice.

He followed in his father's footsteps and became involved in politics. Joe was elected to two terms in the Illinois House of Representatives. He was proud to serve his district, which included Springfield, and is remembered as the only Illinois Republican who voted against supporting the Vietnam War. He delivered a nationally noted speech criticizing the Nixon administration's decision that resulted in the death of so many Americans. Joe was proud to sponsor bills in the General Assembly including the Illinois "Right Turn on Red," Circuit Breaker bill, and sponsored a bill to compassionately deal with addiction and mental illness. He authored numerous legal articles, wrote a legal column advising seniors, and also compiled a book about his father's years and experiences in the NFL as a referee, "In My Time." Joe spearheaded the project in the 1960s to collect all of the writings of Abraham Lincoln, was a long-time supporter and member of the Abraham Lincoln Association, and served on the board. He initiated efforts to save and restore the original Lincoln Depot and established a museum there commemorating Lincoln's time in Springfield.

It was Joe's passion for playing tennis that led him to partner with his friend Cliff Buchholz and several Springfield investors to open an indoor tennis facility. The Springfield Racquet Club opened in the early 70s next to the Olympic Swim Club, which he co-founded with his friend Irv Smith. Joe would play tennis anytime, anywhere, and his family continues that tradition. Another one of Joe's passions included football. He had many extraordinary experiences traveling to games with his father, Ron, a longtime NFL official. Joe also invested in real estate buying, managing, and selling multi-family, student housing and vacation properties. He founded Lincolnland Properties, Inc. in 1967 and it is still operating in downtown Springfield.

Joe was previously married to Rosemary (Kelly) Gibbs (deceased) and has been married to M. Lynn Gibbs for many years. Joe and Lynn enjoyed their home on Lake Springfield and entertained family often. They also traveled extensively, mostly to visit children and grandchildren, but also to escape Illinois winters. In addition to Rosemary, Joe was also preceded in death by his son, Joe; his parents; brothers, Ronald, Jr. (Helen) Gibbs and Richard "Dick" (Pat) Gibbs; and sister, Katherine "Sisti" (Gary) Glisson. He is survived by daughters, Ruth Mary (John) Rankin of Golden, Colorado, and Barbara Kelly (Keith Mischo) Gibbs of Arvada, Colorado; son, Timothy Keohen (Hope Power) Gibbs of Chicago; step-sons, Michael (Audrey) Lopinot of Coconut Creek, Florida, and Jeffrey (Julie) Lopinot of St. Louis, Missouri; grandchildren, Nicolette Rankin of Santa Monica, California, Will Rankin of Golden, Colorado, W. Joseph H. Gibbs of Denver, Colorado, Patrick Gibbs and Sarah Gibbs of Salt Lake City, Utah, KD Gibbs-Karns of Jackson, Wyoming, and Jake Lopinot of St. Louis, Missouri; and many nieces and nephews.

Posted on January 25, 2019 by Rhys Saunders
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