The Mountains to Sound Greenway lost one of its great heroes recently when Tom Gibbs passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. Tom served 23 years on the Greenway Board of Directors and Board of Advisors, winning the admiration and friendship of many generations of Greenway Board and staff.
Few people in our community’s history have done more for the cause of a cleaner environment than Tom. As Seattle took its turn from small city toward booming urban center, he was there, at the helm of Metro, working alongside our founder Jim Ellis to halt rampant water pollution and lead our community on the path toward clean water.
Tom’s leadership, ingenuity, and tireless passion for the environment were driving forces in stopping the flow of sewage into the Duwamish River, Lake Washington, and Elliott Bay. Anytime we pass by Lake Washington and see a beautiful urban oasis filled with paddlers, water-skiers, and swimmers, we can thank Tom.
Not satisfied with cleaning up one city’s water, Tom went to work in Milwaukee, where he spent several years restoring another heavily polluted waterfront.
By the time Tom took a “break” from public service to start a long career at CH2M Hill, he had been recognized with national awards, established the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, earned commendation from the White House, and helped create the landmark Clean Water Act.
Tom never took a day off from trying to build a better community for others. In retirement (Tom’s version of retirement), he carried on his passion for improving transit systems. He worked tirelessly through his final days to preserve a place in our community for Seattle’s historic streetcars. He also delighted in rallying support for the Greenway among the Skyline community where he lived, highlighted by annual outings that visited key project sites and inevitably ended at ice cream shops. Tom’s advocacy was so successful we’ve often had to reserve three tables for the Skyliners at Greenway events.
Above all his accomplishments, Tom was as kind and selfless person as one could ever meet. He was warm and welcoming and far too modest. Upon hearing a (partial) list of his accomplishments read while being inducted to the Greenway Hall of Fame last November, he said “Are you sure I did all that?”
Yes, Tom. We’re sure.
Tom is a Greenway legend and a beloved member of our family. We miss him dearly and join Jean and his family and many friends in mourning his loss.
For those wishing to join in remembering Tom, a Celebration of Life will be held at Skyline on July 27th at 1:00 p.m. The address is 725 9th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104