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Jack W Gibbons

Updated: Jun 28



Musician and retired elementary school principal, Jack W Gibbons, passed away peacefully on June 20, 2022 at the age of 92. He was born on February 7, 1930 in Oskaloosa, Iowa to Anne and James Gibbons. He married the love of his life Phyllis Freeman in 1952, they recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. He is also survived by his three children Sherry, Dan and Sue, along with his daughter-in-law Donna. Additionally, he had nine grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren of which he was very involved and exceptionally proud. He spent hours entertaining the grandchildren and great-grandchildren with Legos, Barbie, Adventureland, and Chucky Cheese. Grandpa Jack was also the first to suggest a scoop of ice cream, something they all remember fondly. He always made sure they felt safe, happy, and knew that they were his pride and joy.


Jack shared his passion for learning with his students and his family. He was the first in his family to graduate high school, and then went on to earn a college and graduate degree. He received his BA from Central College in Pella, Iowa. During this time, he often hitchhiked between Osky and Pella to attend classes, showing his commitment to education. After graduation his first jobs were in Mingo and Eddyville where he was the high school band director. The entire family loved to watch the parades he led; he was an avid participant in anything to do with music. A few years later, supporting a young family, he earned his master's degree in Education Administration at Drake University in Des Moines. He then had a distinguished career as an educator in the Des Moines Public School System as Principal and Asst. Personnel Director. His love of music, and in particular playing the trumpet was well known. He played in bands and performed solos, winning his fair share of awards in contests. In later years he could be heard playing the trumpet in the halls of Scottish Rite Park, Hello Dolly being one of his favorite numbers. He owned a plethora of instruments including trumpets, saxophone, French horn, banjo and many others. Some of the instruments will go to family while a great many are donated to youth music programs.


He was a staunch supporter of the Civil Rights movement and found particular meaning in the quote by John Lewis, “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” He never waivered from getting into “good trouble” and set an example of this for future generations. He was an active member of the Democrat Party, and dedicated much of his time to its causes.


A memorial will be held Saturday, August 13th from 3:30pm – 4:30pm in the Penthouse at Scottish Rite Park, 2009 Woodland Ave, Des Moines, Iowa. The public is invited and welcomed. Anyone wishing to give a memorial in Jack Gibbons name please consider a donation to either the American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF) or the Des Moines Music Coalition, which supports youth in music.