Gibson, 74, dies Longtime lawmaker, secretary of Senate

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BRATTLEBORO -- David A. Gibson, a distinguished Windham County lawmaker and Senate secretary with a statewide reputation for trustworthiness and integrity, died Monday at a hospice in Charlotte, N.C.

He was 74.

Gibson, a longtime resident of Brookline, died at the Levine & Dickson Hospice in North Carolina, three weeks after he was hospitalized while attending the National Conference of State Legislatures Annual Meeting in Kentucky.

He was released from the hospital with a diagnosis of advanced bile duct cancer and was awaiting a doctor's appointment when his condition began to rapidly deteriorate.

Secretary of the Vermont Senate since 2000 when he replaced his deceased brother Robert, David Gibson was well-known throughout the Statehouse for his extensive knowledge of Vermont law and reliable, nonpartisan commitment to the legislative process.

"He was a good guy, a decent salt-of-the-earth type person, and he's going to be truly missed by the Legislature as a whole because he was an undisputed resource for parliamentary procedure for both the House and the Senate," said Rep. Michael Obuchowski, D-Bellows Falls.

When legislators were preparing to make any controversial benchmark decision, Gibson was consulted, he added.

"He will be missed, particularly now with the Legislature out of session for the next few months, but the Gibson family has made a wonderful contribution to the state of Vermont," said Robert Gannett, a Brattleboro attorney and former Republican state senator. "He was, in all respects, a loyal, dedicated Vermonter and a very good lawyer."

Gibson was serving as the Senate secretary through May's adjournment of the Legislature.

"It's a tremendous loss to all of us," said outgoing Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, D-Windham. "David was an extraordinary Vermonter and as secretary of the Senate, he served Vermont with extraordinary distinction. We've lost a great friend and a great Vermonter."

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State Rep. Oliver Olsen, R-Jamaica, made it a point to introduce his incoming visitors to Gibson, who bore a striking resemblance to his father's portrait in the Statehouse. Gibson's father, Ernest W. Gibson, Jr., was Vermont's 67th governor, a U.S. Senator and federal judge.

"He was just a really warm, caring person. He had a very quiet demeanor, but he had a wealth of knowledge and experience and a great love for the state of Vermont," Olsen said.

In Windham County, where Gibson served as a senator from 1977 to 1983, he was known as an honest attorney who had a good nose for justice.

"He was a prince of a guy," said Thomas Costello, a Brattleboro attorney and former House representative and Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor. The two former lawmakers were friends for more than three decades.

Gibson was a very trusted attorney, that was his hallmark, Costello said. "He was a great advocate because he had such great creditability with juries and judges."

Born in Brattleboro on Feb. 26, 1936, Gibson graduated from the local high school before heading off to Yale University and Virginia Law School.

During his long career in Brattleboro, he also served in multiple roles at the state level.

Gibson was the Windham County State's Attorney for three years, First Assistant United States Attorney for two years and served as a member of the State Board of Education from 1973 to 1977.

Atamaniuk Funeral Home at 40 Terrace St. in Brattleboro will hold visiting hours on Friday, Aug. 20 from 6 to 9 p.m. with a memorial service the following day beginning at 11 a.m. at St. Michael's Episcopal Church.

Chris Garofolo can be reached at cgarofolo@reformer.com or 802-254-2311 ext. 275.


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