David Gibbs had a gift for knowing when to speak.
Those who served with Gibbs during his political career, whether on the Clay County Board of Supervisors or at the state House of Representatives knew that when Gibbs got up to speak that he intended to say something important.
“He taught me when to speak up, and he taught me when to be quiet,” said Clay County District 4 Supervisor Shelton Deanes, who served with Gibbs briefly on the county board in the early 1990s. Deanes also has a family connection to the Gibbs. “People definitely listened to him. He was an outstanding representative.”
News of Gibbs’ passing came on Sunday, just days after the District 36 Representative had delivered a handwritten resignation, only to seek a reversal of those intentions hours later.
“I was in Jackson last week when we got news that he was planning to resign,” Deanes said. “By the time we got home, we had learned that he had changed his mind, and we were very happy over that.”
Deanes said he learned of the death of the 76 year-old Gibbs from the supervisor’s niece, who is married to Gibbs’ son.
Deanes was elected to the board of supervisors in 1992, and Gibbs had served on that board since 1988, while running a successful consulting firm in West Point.
“One day he told me that he was thinking about running for state representative, and I told him that was a good idea,” Deanes said. “I told him that I would support him, and I did. I helped with his campaign.”
Deanes said that Gibbs inspired him to be the best supervisor he could be. Deanes would eventually become the first African American to serve as President of the Board of Supervisors in Clay County.
Deanes says that the entire time, he could always count on the counsel and advice from Gibbs. He also said that Gibbs and the late Senator Bennie Turner were men who got things done for Clay County and the entire district. .
“There were very few things that we did not get for this county and our area under Bennie Turner and David Gibbs,” Deanes said. “When you got them on the phone, you could already say it was a done deal.”
When Gibbs first ran for the house, he was attempting to fill a seat left vacant by current West Point Mayor Scott Ross.
“He was always attentive to and helpful for the needs of this city and county,” Ross said on Monday of Gibbs. “I am saddened to hear of his passing. I know he will be missed.”
District 37 Representative Gary Chism, who serves portions of Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha Counties said that the news of Gibbs’ passing took him by surprise on Sunday.
“We were really shocked that the end was so near,” Chism said on Monday morning. Chism was present when Gibbs’ resignation was read to the house on Tuesday.
That resignation never became official and a request for Gibbs to continue serving District 36 was granted by Wednesday.
“David was a quiet but effective leader,” Chism said. “He didn’t go to the podium a lot, but when he did, people listened.”
Gibbs attended Faulkner University, Kentucky State University and Mississippi State University.
Even before he became a representative, he was involved in multiple organizations including the American Legion, American Red Cross, Clay County Business and Professional Association, Member, Heroine of Jerico, Kiwanis Club, Masons and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
He was a member of five legislative committees, including County Affairs, Appropriations, Youth and Family Affairs, Agriculture and PEER.