Leon in 1963 graduation from Amherst College

Leon Gibbs
1940 - 2020

Leon Buster Gibbs, Sr., husband of Dorris V. Gibbs from Scranton, Pennsylvania, was born to the late Hazel Gibbs Green and Buster Gibbs in Pamplico, S.C. on July 23, 1940. He passed on July 23rd at Fairfax Hospital, after a short illness. He grew up in Middletown, Connecticut, where he graduated from Middletown High School as a class officer and honor student. Leon graduated Amherst College in 1963, and Columbia University Graduate School, earning dual degrees, Master of International Affairs and Master of Business Administration in 1965. While at Amherst, he played guitar with his band at fraternity parties, etc., which helped to pay his tuition of $1,500.

Leon was a long-term employee of Johnson and Johnson Pharmaceutical Co. in New Brunswick, NJ., in the International Division. He traveled to more than 80 countries, and was the 1st African-American General Manager/J&J Puerto Rico. Later, he served as President of Central America J&J, while living in Panama City, Panama, where his wife had a wonderful life of touring and shopping.

They moved to Georgetown, when he joined the Foreign Service in order to serve as the Assistant to the Ambassador in Kingston Jamaica. President Reagan chose him for the Committee for Executive Exchange, in the Caribbean Basin Initiative Program, while working at the American Embassy, while on hiatus from J&J. Leon retired from J&J, to become a franchisee of MotoPhoto in the Turnpike Shopping Center, Fairfax, Va. for many years. His daily quote at the dinner table was "What did you do today, to move our lives ahead?"

Leon was an avid golfer, who traveled to professional tournaments with his wife; his hobby was following Tiger Woods in his prime. His greatest joy was playing golf three times a week with several Senior Clubs at Twin Lakes. Finally, after 40 years of playing he got "a hole in one" at Twin Lakes Golf Course. Of course, we have the framed photo.

His greatest legacy was the creation of the Asa J. Davis Gibbs Scholarship Fund, along with fellow classmates Hugh Price and Bill Davis, to help minority students to attend Amherst for four years tuition free. He was a lover of all kinds of music, especially jazz, blues and Doo Wop.

His greatest pride was his family. He is survived by his loving wife, Dorris Veneda Gibbs, son Leon B. Gibbs, Jr., daughter-in-law Tonya Therese Gibbs, grandchildren: Joy Destiny Gibbs and Zion Leon Gibbs. He leaves behind aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, and a host of friends.

Leon was the class president of CHS 1959's Freshman year before moving to Middletown.

written to Doreen Gugliamino in 2009 at the time of their 50th reunion.

information current as of June 2009/updated May 2023