He was a big man in more ways than one.
Outside, he stood 6 ft. 4 inches tall and weighed 240 pounds at his best. Inside, the goodness in his heart and soul was beyond measure.
The Rev. Paul Faith Gibson of Huntersville died of a lung ailment on Feb. 3, 2011. He was 63. In addition to his ministerial calling, he worked with special-needs children in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools system before becoming disabled.
Paul earned his bachelor’s degree in theology from the James Teamer School of Religion in Charlotte and served as assistant minister at Chapel Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Huntersville.
His sister, Ona Alexander, recalled how he joked about his size being her fault. “When he was 9 months old, I watched him while mama picked cotton in front of our house,” she said. Ona was told to give him something to drink if he cried. He cried. Ona gave him a bottle of water. He cried and Ona gave him a bottle of milk. He cried again and she gave him a bottle of orange juice.
When he cried again, Ona called her mom for help.
“She put her cotton sack down and here she come. She picked him up and his little stomach was tight as a drum,” Ona said.
Paul later joked, “No wonder I’m so big – look what y’all did to me,” his sister recalled.
He gave it all
“My father was a leader,” said son Paul Jr. “He was a teacher and also a helper. No matter what time of day or night, I never heard Father turn anyone down for help, a place to stay or something to eat. If he had it, he gave it.”
The elder Paul’s motto was: “Give ‘til it hurts,” said his wife, Elaine. “He gave it all.”
Sister Mary Vanderburg said, “He was the youngest of 12 children, and he liked to reach out and help.”
Yes, brother Andrew Gibson agreed: “He was such a good guy and helped anybody.”
Elaine said most of her husband’s time was spent helping others, but when he had spare time, he loved painting portraits.
Young Paul said his dad also gave advice.
“Everything he instilled in me and my brothers was to use the Bible to live our lives the best possible. We discussed stories of Job, Peter and Paul and we saw that what we were experiencing had been happening since the beginning of time.
“He did a good job bringing us up,” son Paul continued. “Willie and I graduated from college, and Joe works for the sheriff’s department of corrections.”
Son Willie said his dad stressed two main things: Keep God first and love your family.
“He definitely had a great passion for his church and family,” Willie said. “He always said, ‘I’m blessed.’ ”
A great gift
His dad “believed in the spiritual,” son Joe said. “He was an articulate, strong-minded person and a peacemaker. He was a by-the-book father who always wanted us to do the right way, the righteous way. He gave top-of-the-line advice and used his favorite scriptures to help me get past a situation. He was a very loving, diverse person who had a lot of wisdom.”
Willie wrote in his dad’s online guest book: “My father is the best man I know. He taught me how to be a man, a Christian, and how to be a husband.”
Friend Yvonne Roberts wrote: “What great values a father could leave his sons … manhood.”
A great gift, indeed.
Editor’s note: This is our series called Lives That Matter. Written by Charlotte writer Gerry Hostetler, this weekly feature will profile individuals, recently deceased, who had a positive impact on those around them.
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