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Gus Gibbs, Stetson Supporter and DeLand Icon, Passes Away

Gus Gibbs speaks at a podium
Gus Gibbs speaks at the dedication of the Jeffrey and Diane Ginsburg Hillel House at Stetson in November 2019.

Longtime Stetson fan and supporter Leslie “Gus” Gibbs passed away Jan. 31. He was 76.

Gibbs and his wife Arlene have been generous supporters of Stetson University. They supported Stetson Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Stetson Hillel, Stetson Football, Stetson Baseball, and the Dolly and Homer Hand Art Center, as well as Stetson’s Tennis and Crew programs, and the School of Music.

Gibbs, his wife and his sister Marcia Berman named the Gibbs Living Room in Stetson’s new Jeffrey and Diane Ginsburg Hillel House last fall. The room is named in honor of Gus and Marcia’s parents, David and Doris Gibbs.

Wendy B. Libby, PhD

“My husband, Richard, and I met Gus early on in our time here at Stetson,” said Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, PhD. “Warmth, generosity and kindness just radiated from him. He reinforced the interconnectedness of Stetson and DeLand and, of course, Stetson basketball. The gift he, Arlene and his sister Marcia gave to establish our Hillel House and honor their parents stands out to me as one of the highlights of my time at Stetson.”

Gibbs was awarded honorary alumnus status in 2006 and enjoyed promoting Stetson to friends and acquaintances.

portrait outside
Rina Arroyo

“One of Gus’ great gifts was that of connection,” said Rina Tovar Arroyo, assistant vice president for Development, Parent and Alumni Engagement. “He and Arlene gave generously to Stetson, and that gave them great joy. It also gave Gus great joy to connect his friends and colleagues, who were not engaged with Stetson, a reason to connect. 

“He was always talking about the wonderful things happening at Stetson and giving folks a reason to join the Hatter Nation!” she added.

Gus Gibbs sits in the stands at a basketball game
Gus Gibbs, center, flanked by Glenn Wilkes and Gary Meadows, attended Thursday night’s basketball game in Jacksonville between the Hatters and the University of North Florida.

Gibbs gained a measure of fame as a Stetson basketball fan for his spontaneous spelling out of S-T-E-T-S-O-N that he would perform at half court during basketball games to help get the home fans — and the Hatters — fired up.

He and friends attended Stetson’s game against the University of North Florida on Thursday night in Jacksonville just prior to his passing.

The owner of Gibbs for Men, a downtown clothing store which was a staple for more than 40 years until it closed at the end of 2018, Gibbs was heavily involved in the community. Gibbs was a longtime Rotary Club of DeLand member, a supporter of youth athletics, and a member of the DeLand Planning Board.

Group shot in a living room with portraits on the wall behind them of their parents.
Gus Gibbs, back row, attended the dedication of the Jeffrey and Diane Ginsburg Hillel House at Stetson in November 2019 with, from right to left, his wife Arlene, his sister Marcia Berman, Vicki Berman and Reid Berman. Behind them are family portraits of Gus and Marcia’s parents, David and Doris Gibbs, for whom the Gibbs Living Room in the Hillel House is named.

Gibbs’ family moved to DeLand in 1937 and opened a general mercantile store — later a women’s clothing store — in the same block where he would later open Gibbs for Men.

Gibbs helped bring about the transformation of the city’s central business district in the 1980s, turning it into the thriving, award-winning neighborhood downtown DeLand is today.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in his memory to Stetson University Men’s Basketball, c/o President’s Office, 421 N. Woodland Blvd., DeLand, FL 32723. Lankford Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
 
– Cory Lancaster, GoHatters.com and the West Volusia Beacon contributed to this story.