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Gibson, Dr. Jack W.

by Dr. Henry Wilde

Jack Gibson was one of the founding members of the then “new” Juneau Clinic, which had previously existed in older quarters in the Goldstein Building and on South Franklin Street. Drs. W. W. Council, William Whitehead, C. C. Carter and W. P. Blanton who had practiced independently before that, organized it in 1936. Though mainly a pediatrician and as such a “doctor’s doctor,” Jack was also interested in the broad field of medicine and acted as a true family physician and friend to many Juneau citizens.

Jack was born in Oregon and was an adopted child. He was educated at Willamette College and Creighton University. He served in the U.S. Navy for a short time at the end of WWII. Later in life, he went to the famous Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital and the London Institute of Child Health for further training.

Doctor Gibson was married to Virginia who he met as a college student and who became a much beloved Juneau matron who was active in many community affairs. The sewing club was her favorite (she called it the “bitch and stitch club”). Doctor Gibson performed many public services. He was a Secretary of the Board of Medical Examiners of Alaska, part time Director of the Division of Child and Maternal Health for the State, President of the Juneau Medical Society and of the staff at St. Ann’s Hospital.

Jack’s private life was not without tragedies. His son Shawn died suddenly at home when he had an attack of vomiting and he aspirated and suffocated on gastric content. Jack was making a house call in Douglas at that time. Virginia died in 1962 at the U. of Washington Hospital of aplastic anemia, now a well-known complication of viral hepatitis, which had preceded her terminal illness. Jack never fully recovered from his wife’s death as well as personal disagreements between him and other members of the Juneau Clinic, which was dissolved in 1965. His new wife, Nola Capp, a native of Arizona and long-time resident of Juneau after Jack’s death, made heroic efforts to keep the family happy and together and succeeded for a time. The final straw was when a close Juneau friend and patient filed a malpractice suit against Jack. She claimed an improperly performed and painful injection. This suit was settled out of court but did additional emotional damage to Dr. Gibson. He died suddenly at the Washington Athletic Club during a visit to Seattle in 1967.

The Gibson’s had three other boys: Randy, Dena, and Dilan. Dena settled in Juneau, Dilan became a successful dentist in Colorado and Randy disappeared from sight by joining the Dyanetics religious cult.

Dr. Gibson was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Juneau. Along with other early pioneer Juneau physicians such as Drs. Simpson, Dawes, Council, Rude, Clemens, Blanton, Carter and Whitehead, he did leave his mark in our then still small community.

Virginia Gibson

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