Robert Gibbons

Robert Hardy Gibbons

Saturday, February 6th, 1943 - Tuesday, April 21st, 2020
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Capt. Robert Hardy "Bob" Gibbons Sr. joined his mother, father and brother in heaven on Tuesday April 21, 2020 due to congestive heart failure while in hospice care at Spring Valley in Springfield, MO. He was 77.

Bob was born in Springfield, MO on February 6, 1943. He was a graduate of Parkview High School and Drury College (now Drury University) where he obtained a Bachelors Degree Magna Cum Laude in Physics. While at Parkview he did research on the Titanic. During a Key Club convention in Boston, MA, Bob went to the Brattle Street Bookstore seeking information on the ship. While there he met Joe Carvalho. They began corresponding and soon Ed Kamuda and three other researchers founded the Titanic Enthusiasts Society in 1963 later being renamed the Titanic Historical Society Inc. in 1975. It was the first and only Titanic society for 25 years that helped preserve the history of the Titanic. In the late 70's, the Society was featured on the CBS Evening News. Bob was a former president of the Society. Also while at Parkview, he did many science projects concerning the Joplin, MO. Spook Light, for which he received several awards. Bob came to the conclusion that the Spook Light was car headlights from cars traveling on U.S. Highway 66. He was offered numerous college and university scholarships and chose Drury University. He served as president of the Student Union Board arranging many cultural programs.

While at Drury, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy occurred. Bob began a relentless search to preserve the history of what happened. Bob made a trip to Washington D.C. and was allowed to examine the rifle allegedly used by Lee Harvey Oswald. He made several trips to Dallas, TX to meet and interview people who were there and to collect and photograph all of the sites and famous buildings. He has continued to contribute to this collection as recently as February of 2020. His collection is available for research in the Olin Library at Drury University.

After graduating from Drury, he was awarded an internship with the Argon Atomic Absorption Laboratory in Chicago, IL. His scholarship to the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, AR. gave him the opportunity to be among the first to do research on the capability of the ruby-pulsed laser. While in graduate school, he worked with NASA and later was invited to the Pentagon to give a presentation about laser capabilities. Bob was awarded an honorary degree of ScD from St. Xavier University in Calcutta, India in 1976.

Bob's desire to preserve local history and his knowledge of it resulted in an appointment by then Governor Chris "Kit" Bond as a Bicentennial Commissioner in 1975. He cosponsored and named the History Museum which opened on College Street as the Museum of the Ozarks. The first guest of honor was actress Alison "Nellie Olson" Arngrim who starred on "Little House on the Prairie." She came with her famous parents, Thor and Norma Arngrim. While living in Anaheim, CA in the late 70's and early 80's, Bob and his family would visit Alison Arngrim on the set of "Little House on the Prairie." She visited Bob for the final time in Springfield, MO in September of 2019 when she was in Missouri.

Bob was a member of King's Way United Methodist Church and an Eagle Scout. He was a volunteer reenactor for the Gray-Campbell Farmstead. He helped name Zagonyi Park in Springfield, MO in 1969. He volunteered on building sets for the Springfield Little Theater in the 1970's. Bob was excited about the restoration of the Historic Gillioz Theatre in downtown Springfield. His mother Francis worked at the Gillioz before her passing in 1973.

Bob's professional career included work as a science teacher in Ozark MO., the Environmental Officer for the City of Springfield, Hughes Aircraft in Fullerton, CA, Lear Sigler, City Utilities of Springfield, and Litton Industries of Springfield.

Bob joined the Army Reserve in 1968, serving for a non consecutive 20 years before retiring, mostly in the 14th Preventive Medicine Unit as a 68B Nuclear Medical Science Officer. He participated in yearly training at several duty stations including Ft. Leonard Wood, MO, Ft. Knox, KY, Ft Sam Houston, TX, Ft. Hood, TX and Ft. Ord, CA. He was activated for Operation Desert Shield/Storm/Saber, deploying to Southwest Asia from November 1990 to February 1991. His medals and awards include receiving the Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal (1 Bronze Service Star), Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal (2 Bronze Service Stars), Kuwait Liberation Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Armed Forces Reserve Medal. He completed the 21 week AMEDD Officer Advanced Course in 1991. He was stationed for 18 months at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD from 1992 to 1993.

Bob appeared in several film and television projects. While living in Anaheim, CA with his family in 1979, he owned a red Amphicar that could drive on land and be a boat in water. His Amphicar was used at the beginning of the 240-ROBERT television series season 1 episode "Bathysphere", with co star Mark Harmon, "the greatest actor who ever lived". He was on the December 14th 1979 episode of "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson." Bob played Stump the Band with Ed McMahon by singing the song "Way Out" about the Titanic. A guest on this episode was Dr Robert Ballard, who would go on to discover the wreck of the Titanic is 1985. Bob was in the UFO Hunters Season 3 Episode "UFO Relics" discussing "the Bob White object". He was a background extra in several movies including "For Heaven's Sake" (1979), "The Muppet Movie", "Foxfire Light" (1982) and "Major League 2" (1993).
Bob was a huge fan of the Sci-Fi series Star Trek. He even hosted one of the first Star Trek conventions in 1974 with guest stars DeForest Kelly (Dr. McCoy) and James Doohan (Scotty). He was mentioned in the Star Trek book, "The Making of Star Trek," by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry.

Bob assisted Bob White with "The Bob White Object" andThe Museum of the Unexplained in Reeds Spring, MO during the 2000's.

Bob wrote many articles for magazines and books including Air Classics, Sea Classics, Rose O'Neill and her art. He was mentioned in the books "Down With The Old Canoe: A Cultural History of the Titanic Disaster." by Steven Biel and "The Titanic Expeditions: Diving to the Queen of the Deep 1985-2010," by Eugene Nesmeyanov. He wrote the book "Sweet Monsters: The Serious Art of Rose O'Neill" as R.H. Gibbons. He and his mother Francis co wrote "The Rose O'Neill Scrapbook." He wrote the play "The Rose and the Lion" which was performed at the Owen Theater in Branson, MO in 1978. Bob cowrote with Robert P. Neuman, "Wild Bill: The Legend and the Truth of the Wild West's First Shootout in Springfield, Missouri July 21, 1865." He wrote an article on the HK-1 aircraft and while working at Hughes Aircraft he was invited to sit in the cockpit of the HK-1.

Bob gave several talks on many different subjects including The Titanic, The Shroud of Turin, The Science of Star Trek, and The Rose O'Neill house at Bonniebrook.
Bob was active in Wild West Days on the square in downtown Springfield, MO. along with his life long friend Robert "Fred" Schweitzer. He was involved with assisting reenactments of and installing plaques commemorating the historic David Tutt, "Wild" Bill Hickok shoot out on the square in Downtown Springfield, MO on July 21, 1865.
Bob was very active with preserving the Rose O'Neill House at Bonniebrook in Dade MO, former home of the famous artist Rose O'Neill. He attended many "Kewpiesta" conventions in Branson, Missouri. His mother, Francis Gibbons, donated her extensive Kewpie collection to the Bonniebrook Historical Society.

One of Bob's favorite movies was the James Bond movie, "Goldfinger."

Bob was involved in numerous projects all throughout his life. Bob was saved at Church camp at a young age and was able to see each of his children baptized.

Bob was preceded in death by his parents John Robert Gibbons and Francis Jane (Hardy) Gibbons and brother Dr. James Joseph Gibbons, Ph.D. Bob is survived by his sons James Eugene Gibbons, Robert Hardy Gibbons Jr, Dr. John William Gibbons and wife Julia Foley Gibbons, Presley O'Bannon Gibbons and his granddaughter Luna Beatrice Foley Gibbons and grandson Alec Leo Foley Gibbons.

A Graveside Service will be held at 1:00 pm on Thursday, July 2, 2020 at the Maple Park Cemetery, Springfield, Missouri, with full military honors.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Museum of the Ozarks, the Science Department at Drury University or The Gillioz Theater.

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Memorial Program

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Service Details

  • Graveside Service

    Thursday, July 2nd, 2020 | 1:00pm
    Thursday, July 2nd, 2020 1:00pm
    Maple Park Cemetery
    300 W. Grand Street
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    Thursday, July 2nd, 2020 | 1:00pm
    Thursday, July 2nd, 2020 1:00pm
    Maple Park Cemetery
    300 W. Grand Street
    Springfield, Missouri 65807
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    With Full Military Honors

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