Thomas Gibbons to Celebrate 100th Birthday
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Submitted by Mike Gibbons
Thomas Anthony Gibbons turns 100 years old on July 19, 2020. “Tony” was born on a farm just outside of Edina, MO, the son of Andrew and Beatrice Gibbons. In addition to Tony, they had two other sons, James and Richard, and two daughters, Barbara and Rita. James, Richard, and Barbara are deceased, but Rita, Tony’s younger sister, is doing well and resides in Walden, CO.
The Gibbons family has long roots in Knox County. His grandfather on his father’s side immigrated to Knox County as a young child from Limerick, Ireland in the mid-1800s and eventually took up farming. His grandfather on his mother’s side immigrated to Knox County from Mayo, Ireland and operated the Gibbons Hotel in downtown Edina in the early 1900s. Many of the Gibbons family and its descendants still reside in Edina and the surrounding area.
Like many other young men, Tony enlisted when the U.S. entered WW II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1942. He selected the Army Air Corps to become a fighter pilot – there was no U.S. Air Force at the time. Being a farm hand, his service was deferred for a short time, but in 1943, he was called to serve.
After 400 hours of total flight training, he was sent to the Pacific Theater to fly with the 348th Fighter Group in the 5th Air Force. He flew the classic P-40 Warbird, the venerable P-47 Thunderbolt, and the iconic P-51 Mustang which he named the “Missouri Miss”. In 124 missions flown, he provided direct support for ground troops, flew surveillance, escorted bombers, and strafed and bombed airfields. At the war’s end, he and his fellow pilots were instructed to fly over civilian populations and over POW camps as a “calming presence”.
When he returned stateside, he used the GI Bill to get a degree as a Mechanical Engineer from Mizzou and enjoyed a long and successful career at McDonnell Douglas designing aircraft like the F-4 Phantom and the F/A-18 Hornet.
He married Anna Marie Kurth, also from Edina, in the St. Joseph Church in 1951. Father Mullins was the priest. They moved to St. Louis and raised a family of six children. Along the way, they moved to California and Maryland for work assignments. Anna passed away in 2015. Tony lives in Lake St. Louis, MO and enjoys his family which includes 13 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. His favorite hobbies are golf and sailing. He continues to visit Edina and is looking forward to the next Gibbons-White Reunion in 2021 which is held every two years at the Knights of Columbus Hall.