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Lee Wesley Gibson, Oldest Living Pullman Porter, Passes At 106
By Roz Stevenson (Contributing Writer)
Published June 30, 2016
Lee Wesley Gibson at his 100th birthday party in 2010, standing by poster of him as a young Pullman Porter.

Lee Wesley Gibson at his 100th birthday party in 2010, standing by poster of him as a young Pullman Porter.

Lee Wesley Gibson, who had the distinguished honor of being the oldest living Pullman Porter in the United States according to the National A. Phillip Randolph Museum in Chicago, passed away on Saturday, June 25, at 106 years of age. He died peacefully at home with his family by his side.

Funeral services will be held at People’s Independent Church of Christ, located at 5856 West Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90043 on Friday, July 1, at 1:30 p.m. The interment will be at Inglewood Cemetery.

Lee 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.

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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 worked as a teenager 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.

Lee married Beatrice A. Gibson in 1927 and they had three children born in Marshall, Texas; Lee Jr., Gwendolyn and Barbara. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1935, where another daughter, Gloria Ann, was born. The couple was married for 76 years, when his beloved wife passed away in 2004.

When the family first arrived in Los Angeles, they attended Olivet Baptist Church. A deacon at the church referred Lee to a job with Union Pacific Railroad in 1936.   He began as a coach porter and was later promoted to a Pullman Porter. Lee 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. Lee continued his career as a porter until retiring after 38 years in 1974.

The Gibson family has been devoted members of People’s Independent Church of Christ since 1939. Over the years, Lee has faithfully served in numerous capacities; church treasurer, deacon, elder and an officer of the church credit union.

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Lee Gibson continued to live life to the fullest, even after retirement. He served as a volunteer, who assisted travelers at Los Angeles International Airport. Lee 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, Lee was featured in a TV commercial for Dodge entitled “Wisdom,” which honored centenarians. It first aired during the 2015 Super Bowl telecast.

When Lee 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, Lee surprised guests when he took the microphone this year to express his sincere thanks and appreciation for his family and friends. As always, he was immaculately dressed wearing a designer suit and tie, a custom dress shirt with “106” embroidered on the cuffs.

Over the years, Lee 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 Los Angeles City Council President 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. Lee 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.

Lee 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 sincerely missed by his three daughters, Gwendolyn Reed, Barbara Leverette and Gloria Gibson; six grandchildren, 18 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 Jr.; niece, Lois Anderson; and great-grandson, Terrence Hill.

Categories: Celebration of Life | Religion
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