Nolan J. "Hoot" Gibson, 93, of Platteville died on Thursday, June 13, 2019 at the William S. Middleton Memorial Hospital, Madison.
Funeral services will take place at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, June 22, 2019 at Melby Funeral Home & Crematory, Platteville. Rev. Jasmine Tesdahl will officiate. Burial will be at Greenwood Cemetery, Platteville, with military rites accorded by American Legion Post #42 and VFW Post #5274. Friends may call from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Friday, and from 10:00 a.m. until the time of the service on Saturday at the funeral home. Memorials may be made to Disabled American Veterans https://www.dav.org/help-dav/ , the Wounded Warrior Projecthttps://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/Donate , or the Nolan Jones Gibson Scholarship for Veterans at Madison College by emailing RHankes@madisoncollege.edu or by calling (608) 246-6719. Online condolences can be made at www.melbyfh.com.
Nolan was born February 10, 1926 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of Lorenzo Jay and Helen Edna "Babe" (Jones) Gibson. Nolan's mother died when he was barely 5 years old, leaving his father – a general contractor and stone mason – to raise Nolan, his two older brothers and younger sister with the help of family and friends who lived throughout the eastern Dakotas and Minnesota. The two older boys often traveled to job sites with their father, while Nolan and his sister spent time with their father's relatives near Valley Springs, South Dakota or with their mother's sister Myrtle near Mille Lacs Lake, a hundred miles north of their home in Crystal, Minnesota. Nolan especially enjoyed time spent with his Aunt Myrtle, whose only child had tragically drowned. In one letter he wrote to his aunt from South Dakota when he was 11, he inquired about her cow before telling her about learning to play "The Old Rugged Cross" on his accordion.
Nolan attended Robbinsdale High School where he was on the wrestling team and took part in dramatic productions. During one production in the school's gymnasium, he was supposed to shoot a blank shotgun cartridge into the air. However, he had packed the shell with cotton and created a hole in the ceiling. Nolan left high school early to enter the Army, but he later completed the courses needed to earn his diploma. Following military service, he attended the Business Institute in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
On July 15, 1943, Nolan lied about his birth date, claiming to have been born on that day in 1925, in order to sign up for the military draft. He entered military service August 10, 1943 at Fort Snelling, Minnesota and was sent to Fort Benning Georgia. From there he went to Fort Bragg, North Carolina for basic training. He became a member of the First Parachute Field Artillery Battalion. He was sent back to Fort Benning for jump school, and he graduated on December 11, 1943. He then returned to Fort Bragg, and after that was transferred to Camp McCall, North Carolina, where he became a member of the 13th Airborne Division. His military record lists his Army specialty as "Ammunition Handler (505) Skilled 02-15-1944."
Members of the 13th Airborne went back to Fort Bragg on May 11, 1944 for one maneuver. The engine of the Douglass DC3 (C-47) he was riding in blew up on takeoff. Nolan was first in line at the door and jumped. His parachute was not yet connected, and he fell 35 feet. A North Carolina pine tree broke his fall. He was later told that he stripped all the tree's branches on his way down. He was the sole survivor of the crash.
Nolan sustained a right frontal skull fracture from this accident. He was hospitalized at Fort Bragg in an unconscious or semi-conscious state for 45 days and was then transferred to Lawson General Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. He remained at Lawson about two months before going back to Camp McCall where he was restricted to light duty. After two weeks, he ended up going to the station hospital and then back to Fort Bragg. He was honorably discharged November 29, 1944. His character was noted to be "excellent." His wings and lapel pin were issued at Fort Bragg.
Following his discharge from the service, Nolan visited Platteville to see an Army buddy. It was at that time he met Virginia Jenkins, whom he married August 8, 1947 at First English Lutheran Church, and Platteville became his forever home.
Nolan was very civic minded, and he found his calling in helping others – especially military veterans. Nolan was the Grant County Veteran Service Officer (CVSO) for roughly 30 years. He first served as CVSO from April 1951 to January 1, 1956. He was appointed to the position a second time on January 1, 1961. While he was CVSO, Nolan was also the Red Cross Home Service Chair. He attended the Veterans Service Office National Convention in Washington, D.C. as the State Chairman for Wisconsin under Governor Vernon Thompson. He retired as CVSO in 1986.
Between 1956 and 1961, he held positions at Mound City Bank, Platteville, as Assistant Cashier and as an Interviewer for the Iowa State Employment Service at Dubuque, Iowa.
Nolan served in many capacities for the city of Platteville. He was on the Platteville City Council for 15 years, and he holds the distinction of being Platteville's last Mayor. Ironically, he was elected Mayor by a decisive 1386-874 vote over the incumbent during the same election the community voted to switch to a City Manager-Council form of government.
Nolan served on the Grant County Selective Service Board for 15 years. He was a member of the Grant County Board of Supervisors for 13 years. He was on the State Health Planning Board and the Adult Education Advisory Board for Southwest Technical College, Fennimore. Nolan was a member of First English Lutheran Church in Platteville, where he served for a time on the church council.
Nolan was a member of American Legion Post #42 where he was a past commander. He was a member of 40-8 and a lifetime member of Disabled American Veterans. He belonged to the Odd Fellows and Free Masons and he was a former member of the Platteville Elks. For many years Nolan was an assistant at the Bendorf Funeral Home, Platteville.
Nolan was a "good soldier." He took to heart and followed the advice given to him when he became a member of the 13th Airborne: "Make up your mind that you have an important job to do and that if you are constantly alert and attentive you will learn how to do this job more quickly. You should obey orders promptly; show proper respect for your superiors at all times; be neat in your appearance and loyal to your Country."
Nolan is survived by his wife of almost 72 years, Virginia; daughter, Patti (Jim) Huber; two grandchildren, Heather Huber and her husband, Ben Wyman, and Timothy Huber and his wife, Shannon Brokish; one sister, Gayle Posthumus; and many nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his special buddy Jimmy Kay, many other good friends, and his beloved cat, Tammy Lou. He was preceded in death by his parents, infant sister, Helen Gibson, and brothers, A. Duane and James L. (Jim) Gibson. He was also preceded in death by Duane's wife, Arlene; Jim's son John; Gayle's husband, Clifford Posthumas, Sr., and their sons, Cliff Jr. and Michael.
There is so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us, it's rather hard to tell which of us ought to reform the rest of us.