J. Tyrone (Ty) Gibson, Ph.D., one of Auburn's leading business leaders, passed away on January 22 after a brief illness. He was born on 1943 in Albany and was raised on a peanut farm in Vada. As a teenager, he worked as a laborer on farms in the Hopeful and Dellwood communities cropping tobacco, hoeing peanuts, "sacking" peanuts, picking cotton and raising hogs, working from sunup to sundown in June, about 14 hours, to earn $5 a day.
He attended school in Hopeful and graduated from Bainbridge High School in Bainbridge. He went on to earn his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Georgia and his Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi.
Dr. Gibson served as a captain in the United States Public Health Service and on the faculty at the University of Houston before joining the School of Pharmacy at Auburn University. From 1972 until his retirement in 1995, Dr. Gibson was nationally recognized for his research in Pharmacy Care Systems and for the publication of more than 20 research articles as well as his groundbreaking book, "Medication law and Behavior." At retirement from Auburn University he was named Professor Emeritus.
In 1981, working out of the basement of his home, Gibson began a small company that has grown into the largest locally-owned private employer in Auburn with more than 500 employees and revenues in excess of $22 million. The key ingredients contributing to the growth of his business was Dr. Gibson's commitment to integrity, ethics and the care and concern for his employees' and his clients' needs. He is remembered by employees for his passion, his vision, his humor and his warmth.
In 2007, Dr. Gibson and HDI Solutions/Health Information Designs Inc. were recognized with two major awards from the Auburn Chamber of Commerce. In October 2007, Dr. Gibson was named the Norm Caldwell Industrialist of the Year. In January 2007, HDI Solutions and Health Information Designs were presented with the Eagle Award in recognition of corporate expansion resulting in at least 150 new jobs for the Auburn area.
As devoted as Dr. Gibson was to his businesses, he was even more devoted to his family. He took great pride in the fact that his children chose to work with him and raise their families in Auburn. Perhaps his favorite role was that of "Pap" to his four grandchildren and their friends. He could often be seen riding through the neighborhood with his grandchildren and their friends in a golf cart that was nicknamed the "Pap Cart." He delighted in spending time with each of his grandchildren and in telling friends and colleagues about their exploits.
Dr. Gibson loved to entertain at Auburn tailgate parties, enjoying the social aspects of the tailgate more than the game, although you would have never known it from the colors he wore and the enthusiasm with which he cheered the Tigers. To him, tailgating was not a two hour event but began the afternoon before the game when he staked out his favorite turf, and continued for hours after the game as he spent time with friends celebrating the moment.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Dr. Gibson and his family spent as much time as possible at their home on Lake Martin. From his enthusiastic enjoyment of skiing, boating and jet skiing, to the quiet afternoon observance of the sunset from his deck, he loved the lake with its natural beauty and delighted in exploring the various creeks and coves with family and guests.
Dr. Gibson at Christmas season wore a Santa's cap placed jauntily on his head, welcoming his guests with a big smile and a warm hug. No one who experienced his hospitality will forget the warmth of his welcome or his joy in being with family and friends.
While Dr. Gibson loved the excitement of a summer's day at the lake, the roar of the crowd on a football weekend and the celebration of the Christmas season, he also loved the simple beauty of nature. From his quail farm known as Moss Flat, to the hidden glen called Creek Wood just outside the back door of his home, he drew immense pleasure from the trees, the wildlife and the beautiful creeks.
Dr. Gibson was an accomplished scholar, a brilliant businessman and a loving husband, father and grandfather. He will be missed by all who were fortunate enough to know him.
Surviving are wife of 42 years Judith Steadham Gibson; children Jaryn DiBenedetto (Rob) of Auburn, Devin (Jennifer) Gibson and Rhett (Kandy) Gibson, also of Auburn; mother Dorothy Powell Gibson Griffin of Albany; grandchildren Alexis, Lauren, Blake DiBenedetto and Owen Gibson; a sister Dawn Gibson Williams (Winston); and brother, Darryl Gibson. He was preceded in death by his father, James Dorsey Gibson.
Services will be held at 10:30 am on Friday, Jan. 25, at Auburn United Methodist Church. Interment will follow at Town Creek Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, 10901 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037 and designated for the "Ty Gibson Memorial Fund." Condolences may be sent to www.jeffcoattrant.com.