Richard Albert Keith Gibson
1912 - 1991
Richard A. Gibson, a versatile musician with many interests, chaired the music department at Canadian Union College, now Burman University, for eight years, from 1956 to 1964. He then served in the Christian Braille Foundation and as a pastor in the Central Union.
Richard was born in Basin, Wyoming, on November 12, 1912, the youngest of three sons of William H. and Mary Ethel Keith Gibson. He married Maxine Davis on August 7, 1935, and they would have two children, Jean L. and Jon Richard.
He graduated from Pacific Union College and then taught bible, English, and music at Sacramento Junior and Armona Union academies before accepting a music position at Canadian Union College in 1956. A singer, Gibson also played the piano, violin, clarinet, and percussion instruments.
He was able to stabilize the music program during his eight years of leadership, creating a renaissance for music and a high level of participation in his choirs and band. A popular teacher, he became known as CUC's "Music Man," a name likely inspired by the title of a popular 1962 film.
Gibson energized the music program at the college, drawing not only on his musical talents but his skills as a builder as well. He used those skills as he arrived on campus to improve the music facilities in the administration building. In 1957, at the time of the school's 50th anniversary, he also worked with alumni to help them realize their project for that anniversary, the renovation of the laundry building into a new home for the music department.
A photographer, his photographs were used in the church's primary magazine, The Review and Herald, on a least two occasions. He combined that interest with his skill as a pilot to take aerial photos of farms while residing in California. While at CUC, he developed and then created a three-dimensional display of a master plan for the campus that was referenced when the college initiated an expansion plan in 1959.
When Gibson left at the end of 1964, the school had enjoyed its largest enrollment yet, with 534 students, 200 being college level students. The Aurora Borealis, CUC yearbook for that year, was dedicated to him with an inscription that praised him for his friendliness, unselfish spirit, and the encouragement he had provided to students. It described him as "a man whose music puts songs into the hearts of others, whose versatility makes him a part of all the lives around him."
Following two years in graduate study at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) where he completed an M.A. in administration in 1966, Gibson became an editor at the Christian Record Braille Foundation for five years. He then served as an ordained minister.
He was living in Gallatin, Missouri, at the time of his death on July 8, 1991, at age 77.
Sources: Edith Fitch and Denise Dick Herr, Changing Lives, The Hilltop Story, 1907-2007, Canadian University College centennial book, 2007; 1957-1964 CUC yearbooks, Aurora Borealis; Central Union Reaper, February 21, 1967, 2, and March 21, 1972, 5; 1920, 1930, 1940 U.S. Federal Census Records, Iowa Marriage Records,1880-1940, and U.S. Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 - all at Ancestry.com.