Lee Wesley Gibson at his 100th birthday party in 2010,
standing by a poster of him as a young Pullman Porter.
Lee Wesley Gibson, who had the distinguished honor of being the oldest living Pullman Porters in the United States, according to the National A. Phillip Randolph Museum in Chicago, passed away on Sat., June 24, 2016 at 106 years of age. He died peacefully at home with his family by his side. Funeral services will be held a People’s Independent Church, located at 5856 West Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90043 on Fri., July 1, 2016 at 1:30 p.m. The interment will be at Inglewood Cemetery
Gibson was the second child born to West Gibson and Annie (Pugh) Gibson on May 21, 1910 in Keatchie, Louisiana. He had one sister, Willie Mae White, who was a year and nine months older. After his parents separated, his mother moved with her two children to Marshall, Texas. He attended New Town Elementary School and Central High School. On Sundays the family would travel by horse-drawn carriage to attend church in the country. He began to work as a teenager, working at Wiley College and Darco Corp., which made chemical cleaners for dry cleaning. Later he began a career as a presser at Moon’s Cleaners, which he eventually bought.
He married Beatrice A. Gibson in 1927 and they had three children born in Marshall, Texas; Lee Gibson, Jr. on May 18, 1929; Gwendolyn Gibson on September 26, 1931 and Barbara Gibson on August 18, 1933. After the family moved to Los Angeles, California in 1935, the Gibson added another daughter to the family, Gloria Ann, who was born on August 30, 1944. The couple was married for 76 years, when his beloved wife passed away in 2004.
When the family first arrived in Los Angeles, they began to attend Olivet Baptist Church. A deacon at the church referred Gibson to a job with Union Pacific Railroad in 1936. He began as a Coach Porter and was later promoted to a Pullman Porter. Gibson loved working on the railroad because it allowed him to see the country, while affording a better life for him and his family. He purchased a brand new family home in 1945 in South Central Los Angeles, in which he still lived until his passing. He continued his career as a porter until retiring after 38 years in 1974.
For 77 years (since 1939), the Gibson family has been devoted members of People’s Independent Church. Over the years Gibson has faithfully served in numerous capacities; church treasurer, deacon, elder and an officer of the church credit union.
Gibson continued to live life to the fullest, even after retirement. He served as a volunteer, who assisted travelers at Los Angeles International Airport. Gibson also managed income tax preparation offices for H&R Block. In addition, he was the District Director for AARP tax preparation assistance program for seniors. Most recently Gibson was featured in a TV commercial for Dodge entitled “Wisdom,” which honored centenarians. It first aired during the 2015 Super Bowl telecast.
When Gibson celebrated his milestone 100th birthday in 2010, over 100 family and friends came to celebrate at the Proud Bird, which was given by his three daughters. For the past four years an annual birthday celebration was given at Maggiano’s Italian Restaurant in Los Angeles. The 106th birthday celebration took place five-weeks ago. Normally a man of few words, Gibson surprised guests when he took the microphone this year to express his sincere thanks and appreciation for his family and friends. As always, Gibson was immaculately dressed wearing a designer suit and tie, a custom dress shirt with “106” embroidered on the cuffs.
Over the years, Gibson has received a congratulatory letter from President Barack Obama, as well as resolutions from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, as well as, President of the Los Angeles City Council Herb Wesson, signed by all members of the council. In 2011 he was the honored guest at the Union Pacific Railroads Black Employees Network’s Black History Month luncheon in Omaha, Nebraska. He also served as Grand Marshal for the Watts Christmas Parade in 2010.
Blessed with extraordinary good health, he took only a daily vitamin. He was celebrated at the Department of Motor Vehicles when he passed the driving test at the age of 100. He continued to drive until he was 102. He enjoyed attending to church, spending time with family and friends, watching the Los Angeles Dodgers and attending social events. He will be remembered for his longevity, positive spirit, love of God, devotion to family, wisdom and unconditional love for all mankind.
Lee Wesley Gibson will be missed by three daughters Gwendolyn Reed, Barbara Leverette and Gloria Gibson; six grandchildren; Renard (Carolyn) Polee, Michael Polee, David (Paula) Polee, Anita Polee, Alan (Jacqueline) Polee and Loratious Presley III. Too numerous to list, he also had eighteen great-grandchildren twenty-two great-great-grandchildren, three great-great-great-grandchildren and a host of friends and admirers. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister, wife Beatrice, son Lee Gibson, Jr., niece Lois Anderson and great-grandson Terrence Hill.