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Remember Jim Gibbs – Longtime Friend

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Jim at UMSU 1971; Jim and Sharon

I remember Jim Gibbs as a great friend, mentor and conversationalist. Sadly, he passed suddenly in September. 

We met during what I call the UMSU years, a time of transition in early 70’s Winnipeg. A time when you went to school but rarely went to school. My first crack at post-secondary education got seriously sidetracked into student community activities and politics. Being five years my senior, Jim got there first. To this day I don’t really know what Jim’s undergraduate degree was. It didn’t matter.

During the early 70’s, Jim was sports editor and advertising manager for The Manitoban, the University of Manitoba Students’ Union newspaper. At the same time, I was involved in the ham radio club, VE4UM. We both hung around the second floor of the old UMSU building, often late into the evening. So, we met, drank coffee and talked. I remember Jim Gibbs would give me a ride home in his old Plymouth, which he affectionately called the Pink Puce.

We were both quite involved in student politics, usually with me up front and Jim in the background. He knew almost everyone. We both did lots of organizing and I like to think accomplished some good things.

Jim provided me with a lot of support for some of my major projects at the time. These included building up Student Radio, and organizing the early Festival of Life and Learning. This was the era of what we called the “two finger beckon” from Jim. It meant: come here. Something has gone wrong and we need to fix it. And, we usually did.

By the mid seventies, the UMSU years ended and we both went our separate ways. I married Hilda and we moved around western Canada. Jim married Sharon and they stayed in Winnipeg. Jim had a long career at the Finance Department in the Government of Manitoba. Jim and Sharon were very active in the Winnipeg arts community. After many years apart, we reconnected and I had one last visit with them together just before Sharon passed in 2007.

Remember Jim Gibbs – Importance of Reconnecting

Reconnecting with old friends is easy with e-mail and social media. I never could get Jim to Skype, though. Since I retired, we got together in person three or four times a year. Most often, it was during Jim’s trips to Calgary to visit an elderly aunt. We talked on the phone, too, but more fun in person.

Our usual topic of conversation was public policy. We had both spent most of our working lives involved with provincial government – me as a consultant and him as an internal adviser. We both could still learn a lot from each other, and share a few memories.

Our friendship lasted nearly fifty years, like a cup of excellent coffee good to the last drop.

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