TAMPA - Many well known faces from the Tampa Bay community helped remember Congressman Sam Gibbons, but, his family's gratitude and personal memories gave us a greater understanding of this well known man.
"I've never been so proud of a man in my life as my grandfather," said his grandson Second Lieutenant Hanley Gibbons.
Gibbons served 34 years in Congress after fighting in World War II as a paratrooper. he was part of the Normandy invasion on D-Day and parachuted into enemy lines to help lead the initial invasion. Gibbons received the Bronze Star and the Legion of Honour from the president of France. His service inspired Hanley Gibbons to follow in his footsteps.
"I was blessed enough to have him arrive at the day of my graduation from airborne school to pin me. All he could tell me was how proud of me he was," said Hanley.
During his 34 year career in Congress Gibbons played key roles in helping establish the Head Start Program, Medicare and Medicaid and the Civil Rights Act.
"Thank you from the bottom of our heart for giving us a father who gave us a front row to history," said his son Clifford Gibbons.
Gibbons ran and won 42 campaigns. His family said while their loss is overwhelming they will always follow his legacy.
"He never gave up and he never gave up on people and neither will we," said Hanley Gibbons.
Locally he helped start Tampa International Airport and the Tampa V.A. hospital. His nickname the Father of USF was coined for helping start the University of South Florida.
"His vision, his tenacity and his caring for others has made a lifetime of accomplishments that all of us will cherish and remember," said USF President Judy Genshaft.
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