Sam Gibbons Dies: Former Florida Congressman Dead At 92
ABC News has confirmed the sad news that former Florida Congressman Sam Gibbons, who represented Tampa in the US House of Representatives for 34 years, died late Tuesday or early Wednesday in Tampa. He was 92.
According to Gibbons’ son Cliff, his father passed away peacefully in his sleep at the retirement home where the two had chatted Tuesday night while looking out over Tampa Bay.
“He went to bed as he normally does, but when he was to get up this morning for breakfast, we couldn’t get him awake,” another one of Gibbons’ boys, Cliff, told the Tampa Bay Times.
Born in Tampa in 1920, Gibbons served as an officer in the 101st Airborne during World War II before dedicating his life to public service.
Among the highlights of Gibbons’ legacy was spearheading the effort in the state Legislature in the 1950s to create the University of South Florida. He then served in the Florida Senate from 1959 to 1962.
“Both the university and the Tampa Bay community owe Sam Gibbons great appreciation for his vision, his support and his accomplishments,” USF President Judy Genshaft said. “He had the vision to fight for these great institutions to build this community. He was the founder and best friend of the University of South Florida. And he had a great vision for the powerful role of a university in building a community. He was Tampa Bay’s great pioneer. “
Gibbons, who never lost an election, was known as one of the most ardent advocates in Congress for better education and health care, particularly for children.
News4jax.com notes he was also a floor manager for much of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty legislation and was the original sponsor of legislation creating the individual retirement account, or IRA.
Gibbons retired from Congress in 1997 at the age of 76, having served 34 years.
Sam Gibbons’ first wife, Martha Hanley Gibbons, died in 2003. A second wife, Betty Culbreath, survives. Other survivors include his sons Cliff, Mark and Timothy, and several grandchildren.