Michael A. Gibbons, 1943-2020: eulogy for a beloved soul

Michael’s long-held dream, nay promise and trust, was his work would help to uplift and refine the human spirit and that of his beloved home world. To look at Michael’s artwork is to see and feel the soul of a true messenger for whom beauty, harmony and grace speaks to the heart of Michael Gibbons.

When we first met, my calling as an artist was in the early stages of development, and although Michael’s artwork was more refined than mine, he saw something in my pen-and-ink drawings that enticed him to ask if I would show my drawings alongside his artwork as fundraisers for the Old Church in Yachats. To say I was honored is to understate the obvious.

Of all the tributes and accolades that have and will be paid to this most remarkable man, the one tribute for me, and one which will forever cast its light on our long friendship, goes back to that heartbreaking time when Michael and I were sorting through the ashes looking for anything that was salvageable from a fire set by people who broke into his home while he was away. Suddenly, Michael stood up, looked into my eyes, and in a voice resigned to his fate said, “They didn’t burn my eyes or my hands, Ray. I’ll simply go on from here.” In solemn reply I said, “Yes you will, and better than ever before.”

It was in the silence that followed that we knew, like Phoenix rising from the ashes, Michael would rise to heights where visions of his future could be seen and nurtured as never before. And thus so it was, and thus so it became. It was while visiting Michael and his wife, Judy, that I’d shared how he’d long ago become my teacher and mentor, endowing me with a legacy which I would come to rely on when I, too, would lose years of work that I’d been working on — Michael’s prophetic words flashing upon heart and mind.

With deepest gratitude and heartfelt remembrance, you will be greatly missed, my dear old friend, yet never forgotten for the enrichment you brought to my life and so many others.

RJ McBride



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