1942 – 2021
Drew Gibson loved nothing more than a great story. The best he had ever shot was his. A proud autodidact of Cherokee heritage in Oklahoma, he was born to intelligent, salt-of-the-earth parents, his geologist father Gib and his teacher mother Gladys. Drew, a cousin of Will Rogers, also “never met a man he didn’t like”. He transformed this openness and respect for others into his gift not only for optimizing every situation, but also for his nature as a flute player. Where he led, others followed and enjoyed the journey he created.
Still the Eagle Scout he has become, he also filled his youth with an industrious start to the business: building storm-proof caves; run an ice cream truck; as a Disneyland staff member; all predated his graduation from the University of Oklahoma in 1964. The whole world beckoned, first in the form of the Navy and Vietnam. Drew, a decorated naval aviator, won two air medals and other awards. It took off and landed on aircraft carriers. In addition to piloting other planes, he eventually flew as the patrol commander of a squadron of large submarine-fighter seaplanes, the Martin P5M Marlins. His Navy nickname “Hoot” followed him to his next stop, Silicon Valley. There, he chose real estate as the start of his career. He wrote Drew Gibson’s next chapters on a legendary neighborhood he helped build, a museum he loved and the people he celebrated.
The most important people to him have always been his family: his beloved soul mate, “wife” and partner in all things for over 43 years — Katie; and the lights and pride of his life, his children: Janelle, Drew and McKenna. He was a juggler and plate turner, constantly trying to make time to share life’s adventures and the little moments with Katie, her children, and her ever-expanding circle of close friends. You consider yourself lucky to be a “buddy” or “buddy” of Drew, taking advantage of his endless curiosity, indomitable positivity, and wise intelligence.
Drew met many of his closest friends early on in the Silicon Valley real estate world. He first excelled as a Sales Manager for the San Jose office of Coldwell Banker Commercial Real Estate, before joining the Koll Company in 1973. From 1973 to 1985 he was President and Managing Partner of the North Division. of California from the San Jose-based Koll Company. Under his leadership and direction, the division has developed and managed over 9 million square feet of office and industrial projects in the San Francisco Bay Area, from mid-rise office buildings to large R&D projects. He then founded, with his great partner Steve Speno, Gibson Speno LLC, a real estate investment and consultancy firm, initially specializing in apartment buildings and the development of residential investment zones in California and outside it. ‘State. He was also a director and co-owner of Preferred Community Management, Inc., a property management company.
In addition to these responsibilities, Drew has broadened his horizons with board work and philanthropic efforts. He was chairman of the San Jose Water Company, a public utility listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and was also a director of Comerica Bank-California and chairman of the bank’s audit committee. Drew was founder and director of ICE Mobility, a national authorized distributor of Verizon products, based in Chicago, Illinois and director and co-owner of Celluphone Inc., a cellular agent based in Los Angeles.
Contemporary art was a passion, shared with Katie. Drew has contributed as president and director of the San José Art Museum Association and as a former member and head of the museum’s collection committee. He also chaired the Museum’s Building Foundation, which was established to raise funds and construct the current museum building. Drew was instrumental in establishing the museum’s partnership at the time with the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, and Drew and Katie were members of the Whitney National Committee. Drew also served on the advisory board of the Sun Valley Museum of Art in Ketchum Idaho.
Leadership, service and learning were common themes for Drew. He was a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum and a long-time member of the Urban Land Institute. He was also a director and president of the San José Chamber of Commerce. Drew was a member and chapter president of the Young Presidents Organization and the World Presidents Organization (groups in which he made some of his closest friends). In recognition of Drew’s philanthropic and nonprofit commitments, he was the recipient of the annual Community Service Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews and was selected as Business Leader of the Year by the county magazine of Santa Clara. After moving to the Central Coast, Drew joined the board of trustees of All Saints Day School and later became a trustee of York School, a private high school in Monterey, California.
In any situation, Drew shared two of his most striking characteristics: his always ready sense of humor and playfulness, and his prodigious infectious energy. A room, a terrace, a beach or a river always felt fuller and more alive if there was one. And if he was up and theirs, he wanted his kids, dog, family and friends to be with him on whatever ride that was his current “e-ticket”. He loved to travel, the more exotic and adventurous the better – from the North Pole to Bhutan, from Tierra del Fuego to Cuba, from the Upper Caucasus to all the regions in between. He read avidly, enjoyed movies, music and concerts, and the more intellectual a conversation the better. He was an excellent cook: barbecue ribs were by far his favorite. He loved to dance, ski and hike. Fly fishing was another passion. And golfing. If he caught too few fish or hit too many balls, he was always happy to be outside with his buddies. And there might be an opportunity for a caper. The caper stories from high school were endless.
Besides his parents Gib and Gladys, Drew had a sister Maryann and her husband Jodie Hoffer, both of whom he loved very much. All four died before Drew. The children of Drew, Janelle, Drew and McKenna, and his grandchildren Annabelle, Watson and Jordi have been his greatest blessings and endless sources of pride and immense mutual love for him. His son-in-law Smitty and his future daughter-in-law Trea were the perfect complement to his immediate family. Katie’s brothers, Scott, Kirk and Craig were also Drew’s brothers; and he looked after Katie’s parents, Don and Bonnie, like his own. Drew’s touchstone, Katie, and all her family are detached by her passing.
Drew passed away in September 2021, surrounded by his family, after a long, fierce battle with acute myeloid leukemia. He was brave, fiery, funny and big-hearted until the very end. Drew wanted a private, celebratory reunion of family and friends when he felt safer doing it. This gathering will be coming. If you choose to remember him with a donation, please see the information below; or donate blood or participate in your local blood drive. Keep someone like Drew alive.
In the meantime, remember and spin some of Drew Gibson’s multitudes of great stories. Share them together. Share them with his family. Laugh well and smile thoughtfully. There is nothing Drew would have liked more.
The Gibson family will support myeloid disease research and scholarship at Stanford. If you would like to join us, donations can be made to the “Dr. Peter Greenberg Research and Education Fund” at Stanford University. To donate online, go to memorial.stanford.edu, select ‘Other designation’ and note that this donation is for the ‘Dr. Peter Greenberg Research and Education Fund’ in memory of Drew Gibson. Gifts by check may be made payable to Stanford University with an indication on the line of the memo that the gift is for “The Research & Education Fund for Dr. Peter Greenberg” in memory of Drew Gibson . Mail to: Stanford University, PO Box 20466, Stanford, CA 94309.
See the online memorial for G. Drew Gibson
Published by The Mercury News on January 7, 2022.