Saturday, October 21, 2017
11:00 AM to 3:00 PM EDT
3645 Vanrick Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49001
12 Noon - Time of Sharing will Begin
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Patient, gentle, and generous, Wes “Dr. Hook” Gibson lived his life with enthusiasm and commitment to being of service. A devoted husband, father, and mentor, Wes centered his life in optimism and faith in others. Having never met a stranger, Wes welcomed everyone into his heart and embraced all people as friends. With tremendous passion, Wes unhesitatingly gave his time and knowledge, inspiring others' growth in uncountable ways. Revered by many, Wes will long be held in the hearts of those who were blessed to know him.
After years of misery brought on by the Great Depression and World War II, 1949 marked significant postwar prosperity sales of cars, televisions and the other goods are demanded by a consumer society. The establishment of NATO, the first sale of a VW Beetle in the US, the first successful television sitcom, and the first Polaroid camera all marked 1949 as a year of hope, growth, and consumerism. The nation’s focus was on family and hope for a brighter future. Nowhere was their more hope than in the Rapid City, South Dakota home of Albert and Margaret (Hutchison) Gibson as they welcomed their youngest son Wes into their family on June 23rd.
Growing up in Rapid City during the 50s and 60s, Wes not only enjoyed the good company of his older two brothers, he relished in spending much of his time hunting and fishing with his grandpa and his Uncle Roger. Much of his youth was also spent participating in Boy Scouts where his natural affinity for the outdoors flourished. During his high school years, Wes played clarinet in the marching band, and shortly after turning 18 he threw his first bowling ball.
After graduating from Rapid City Central High School in 1967, Wes attended South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. Several years later, Wes earned his bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. During his schooling, he worked for a time on a bridge project and realized it wasn’t a good fit. So, after graduating with his degree, he became a professional bowler.
The first time Wes bet on a game, the prize was lunch, and he bowled his first 300 game at Meadowbrook Lanes in Rapid City. He won this kind of bet several times over the years.
Wes moved to Billings, Montana where he managed a bowling center for a year. When Brunswick offered him a job in El Cajon, California, he learned quickly that he did not like the west coast and a year and a half later left the state for good. In the late 70s, Wes moved to West Michigan where he first managed Spring Lake Lanes in Battle Creek. He then moved to Kalamazoo and Continental Lanes. In 1978, Wes helped build and manage Harpo’s Lanes Bowling Alley. Wes then opened and ran the pro shop, Dr. Hooks Inc.
In 1980 Wes had the good fortune of bowling in a tournament in Rapid City. It was here that the assistant manager caught his eye. Shortly before leaving to catch his flight, he worked up the nerve to ask Lillian for her number. He called her the first time at 11 pm that night. For the next two months, Wes and Lil regularly spoke by phone. Recognizing their hearts were destined for each other’s, Lil soon moved to Kalamazoo, and the couple began planning their wedding. On May 16, 1981, the pair made their vows in Rapid City, South Dakota and then traveled to Hawaii for their honeymoon.
The Gibson family quickly grew, and before long the couple was blessed with the honor of being parents to four sons, Stuart Selby, and Jason, Brandon, and Tyler Gibson.
A true team, Wes and Lil spent most of their time at each other's side sharing the responsibilities of both home and the Pro Shop. With much hard work, creative vision, and dedication, the shop expanded from a trophy store to a full-service award business that worked with both individuals and corporations. Though Wes was great in any endeavor he took on, his specialty was bowling balls.
As the young family grew, Wes continued to bowl, participating in three leagues and tournaments on the weekends. In 2000, he was inducted into the Kalamazoo Bowling Hall of Fame. When not bowling, he was involved in his boys’ Little League teams, scouting, and their youth bowling league assuring that all of his boys bowled. All of the boys became competitive bowlers, and Wes loved driving them all over the Midwest to participate in various tournaments. Wes and Lil clocked over 410K miles on their GMC van driving the kids to tournaments over the years.
A very active father, Wes enjoyed reading lots of stories to his kids when they were little. He made sure to share his love of animals by always having a pet or two, and even had a pet squirrel for a time. As the boys grew older, Wes had them help in the alley. Not only did they learn the behind the scene workings of the alley, they had ample time to learn scoring and practice their shots.
Every summer the family loaded up and made the trip back to South Dakota to visit family and fish which fulfilled the promise Wes made to Lil when they married. Wes never broke that promise and the family enjoyed years and years of fishing in the Black Hills, learning to shoot, and relishing in the joy of spending time together on the road.
Wes truly loved nothing more than spending time with his family. Whether cooking on the grill, wiring speakers, woodworking, or lending a hand on a project, Wes was happiest in the good company of his wife and kids. He and Lil were always together and especially enjoyed going out to eat or throwing slots at the Hartford Casino. Once a year, Wes got a bit wild and played Blackjack with his sons! Christmas was Wes’ holiday. With great care and a bit of obsession, Wes fussed to make sure everyone had enough, and that as much of the holiday was documented with his video camera as possible. Though it could drive Lil a little nuts, she loved his commitment to their family, and everyone is grateful to have so much of their history preserved.
Next to his family, Wes had a deep passion for being of services to others. He served as a board member for both the Mich State Young Bowling Alliance and Michigan Jr. Masters Association for many, many years. He loved sharing his knowledge of the sport and was eager to mentor anyone with a desire to learn. Young and old alike improved their game under Wes’ gentle coaching and generous guidance.
With his signature cup of coffee in his hand, Wes could wield a story that would entertain, comfort, encourage, and make a person feel welcome. Wes was a legend everywhere he ventured. Whether to bowling alleys, ball games, the Speedway on his way to work, the golf course, or his favorite restaurants, Wes left an endearing impression of a man who loved life. In so doing, he inspired others to search for their own passions and joy in the simple pleasures of each day.
Though life certainly feels less certain without Wes’ steadfast presence and encouragement, may it afford deep comfort to know that his legacy lives on in our own lives. Each time we make a friend of a stranger, freely give our knowledge away to someone else, share time with our family, or enjoy a good cup of coffee, we keep the bright light of Wes’ spirit shining. In this way, Wes will continue to inspire warmth, love, and enthusiasm for life.
Age 68, died October 18, 2017, at Rose Arbor Hospice Residence. He was preceded in death by his parents and by a brother, Carl Gibson. Surviving are his wife of 36 years, Lil Gibson; 4 sons: Stuart (Rachelle) Selby, Jason (Heather) Gibson, Brandon Gibson and Tyler Gibson (Marissa Smikle); 5 grandchildren: Danielle, Mason, Levi, Wyatt, and Josie; brother, Lloyd (Helen) Gibson and many nieces and nephews. Cremation will take place. A celebration gathering will be held Saturday from 11-3pm at Continental Lanes (3645 Vanrick Dr. Kalamazoo) with a time of sharing beginning at 12noon. Please visit Wes’ personal web page at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com, where you can read his story, archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to West Michigan Cancer Center. Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900