The mark of a great and wonderful gentleman, Sam Gibbons, was made clear to me seven years ago when my neighbors and I worked together on a preservation issue for Hyde Park. When the decorated war veteran, leading statesman, Congressional deal-maker and creator of so many things wonderful for Tampa came to my home to work on a letter supporting our cause, he entered with a smile, a bow of his head and the graciousness of a Southern gentleman.
"My, what a lovely home," he said upon entering. And later: "Call me anytime."
Now, my little family has no significant connections with South Tampa. None of us attended Plant High School. We are not members of any of the usual important clubs. And pretty much we are Johnny-come-lateleys to this amazing community. Moreover, I was just a stay-at-home mom he had never heard of, volunteering on a cause with some of my neighbors. And yet he was wonderfully gracious, treating us all as if we were the most important citizens in Tampa.
Do they make men like that any more? Sometimes we wonder. But every now and then, there is a man so wise, so generous and so humble that he inspires the rest of us.
Sam Gibbons was heaven-sent to this community. God bless him now that he is peacefully home.
Elizabeth B. Johnson