Rossey Edward “Reggie” Gibson Jr., 72, hoped to come back in his next life rich instead of good looking

WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

Rossey Edward "Reggie" Gibson
Rossey Edward “Reggie” Gibson

Reggie was born on Aug. 21, 1944, in Lynchburg, Va. He spent his childhood spoiled rotten by his loving mother and many aunts and uncles while his father was fighting in World War II.

Reggie loved to play cowboys and Indians, ride his bike to the movies and visit his grandparents at Piney River. Reggie spent his teen years listening to “the devil’s music,” dancing to Motown and driving down “Thrill Holler” in Lynchburg with friends and pretty girls in the car he bought from bagging groceries at Piggly Wiggly. As much as he loved his family, he wanted to see the world and become a surfer in California, so he joined the U.S. Air Force. Much to his chagrin, he was sent to London in 1964, where he swore it rained for four straight years. Reggie was a postman for the U.S. Air Force, and it has been said that the policemen in Leicester Square set their watches to Reggie’s mail route.

Reggie was also an airman in charge of procurement of leggy blondes and liquor for the blokes at Ruislip AFB. Reggie always said, “Someone had to do it.” One fateful day, when it apparently wasn’t raining, Reggie visited a local restaurant because he heard that none of the three sisters who worked there would date a G.I. Reggie was determined he would take on this challenge and finally convinced Maria to go on a date. According to Reggie’s version of the story, Maria was smitten, and eventually became his wife. They celebrated their 50th anniversary this past November.

After his honorable discharge, Reggie and Maria moved back to the states, where he became an air traffic controller and was christened “The Rose” by his fellow controllers. Reggie worked in the Washington Center in Leesburg, Va., for 35 years, where he kept millions of passengers safe and kept his coworkers laughing. If you flew in the mid-Atlantic between 1968 and 2003, Reggie likely controlled your plane.

After retiring in 2003, he became an instructor at the ATC center in Oklahoma City, hopefully teaching new recruits all the best jokes and how to stay sane while keeping planes apart. He finally retired so that he could spend all of his free time with his beloved family, in-between traveling around the United States, especially to the national parks.

Reggie and Maria lived in Haymarket, Va., for nearly 40 years and recently moved to Williamsburg, Va. Reggie’s hobbies were spending time with his family, holding court with “The Council of Elders” at Bob Evans in Manassas, Va., and telling everyone what he would do if he won the lottery. Reggie believed in keeping the car gassed up and dressing well, including always tying a Double Windsor knot with a dimple. He taught his daughters how to fix cars, stack wood, and drive a straight stick, but also made sure he was there to help them pick out their prom dresses with matching shoes and handbags.

Reggie passed away on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, surrounded by friends and family who then reminisced about his irreverent sense of humor, warm heart, quick wit and excellent dancing skills.

Reggie is survived by his devoted wife, Maria, who never got his jokes but loved him dearly; two equally devoted daughters, Angela (Leo) of Carrollton, and Christina (Jim) of Virginia Beach; two beloved grandsons, Brett and Aidan; and his brothers, David and Randy, both of Lynchburg.

Reggie always said he hoped to come back in his next life rich instead of good looking. To remember Reggie, please put some Motown on your radio and dance. In lieu of flowers, please take that dollar bill you’ve been keeping under your mattress and send it to The Church of What’s Happening Now. Just kidding…please send donations to St. Jude’s Children’s fund. After you’ve danced to The Supremes.

A Motown-inspired celebration of life will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 9, at Trinity United Methodist Church, 201 Cedar St., Smithfield, Va., with a luncheon afterward. Interment will follow in Albert G. Horton Memorial Veterans’ Cemetery, 5310 Milner Road, Suffolk, Va. Please wear something purple in Reggie’s honor.