Tom Gibboney

 
After earning a journalism degree from Florida in '65, and with Vietnam running very hot, the only choice I saw was to donate the next two years of my life to the U.S. Army. But before they got me, I decided to see the West, and with a friend drove across the country in a 1955 DeSoto to join some other SHS alumni in Los Angeles. With this connection I found a job and hung out in L.A. for about a year, until the draft board notice invited me in for a physical. The next thing I knew I was crawling under live fire at Fort Ord (Monterey, Calif.) with drill instructors who used the word "Claymore Mine" in every other sentence. Their mission was to scare us to death and think nonstop about Vietnam, and they succeeded.
But in my case, luck and a college degree overcame the long arm of the infantry and Vietnam, and those magical orders shipping me to Alaska were celebrated along with the release of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. So there I was, a Florida kid who hadn't seen snow in 10 years, working as a buck private for the U.S. Army, Alaska in Anchorage, where winter temps can drop to 30 below. This was NOT Lido Beach.
Being an astute judge of talent, the Army immediately put me to work writing pamphlets, including "The Care and Maintenance of Equipment" but I eventually found better work on the base newspaper and then managed to get a job as a part-time sports writer at the Anchorage Daily News. That gave me a shot at editing and after finishing my two-year Army stint, I came right back to Anchorage as a full-time reporter and left as managing editor about 10 years later. Along the way the paper did some great reporting and we won a Pulitzer Prize for a series of articles on the Alaska pipeline project. I have a "couple" of stories about what a young writer might find to do in a wide-open Alaska town where the bars close for one hour a day and the after-hours joints cater to every known vice.
Ironically, after winning the Pulitzer, the Daily News ran into some hard times and I decided to head to Homer, a small fishing village about 200 miles south of Anchorage, to manage a weekly paper that Howard Simons (remember Watergate?) and another Washington Post executive purchased on a whim. There is nothing like editing a small town paper where 50 percent of the population embraced the '60s counter culture and the other half are rock-solid born-again Christians. As they say, it builds character. The paper did well and my luck continued when I met Kathe at a pick-up bridge game. We soon became serious, got married and Jeff, the first of two children, arrived in November of 1979. Daughter Kyla came along four years later and by that time, Kathe and I were dreaming about how we could leave the cold and dark Alaska winters behind.
  
Fast forward to 1988 and Stanford University, where I received a one-year journalism fellowship, which included a good stipend, an on-campus apartment and an invitation for both of us to audit any course offered. After toasting our unbelievable luck, we packed what we could in a tiny Subaru, drove 1,000 miles to Haines, and hopped on a state ferry to Seattle. Once we saw the Bay Area, we knew that even our brand new house in Homer would have to go, as we had no intention of returning to the cold, dark winters of Alaska. The fellowship was our entré to a world of journalism connections and after a false start working for McClatchy Newspapers in Sacramento, I found a perfect job in the Bay Area. Kathe is a nurse practitioner at a local doctor's office, Jeff is an engineer and works for a company developing high-altitude wind technology and Kyla has an English/drama degree from UC Berkeley and is thinking about law school. We have enjoyed our adventures in Alaska, but we love the Bay Area, where we have great weather for hiking, biking and walking, all the culture and food you could want in San Francisco and Berkeley, and jobs that keep us busy. Kathe speaks French, so most of our recent vacations involve France, where she attends language school and I indulge my biking habit, which leaves plenty of time to explore.
I am looking forward to seeing everyone and talking about some of the wild and crazy things we used to do at SHS and elsewhere.

Below: The Gibboneys enjoy a sunny day in the Grand Canyon a few years ago. That's the Colorado River in the background. Tom only fell in once, as we were running the biggest rapid on the trip. The water is cold! From left are Jeff, Kyla, Kathe and Tom.


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