David Lawrence Gibson
1951 - 2019
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SPARTANBURG, SC- David Lawrence Gibson, 68, husband of Nancy R. Gibson, died Friday, November 22 after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.
Born in Raleigh, N.C. on February 8, 1951, he grew up in Charlotte and Huntersville, N. C. and was a graduate of North Mecklenburg High School. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. in mathematics from Furman University in 1973 and earned his M.S. in mathematics from the University of Tennessee in 1975. He taught mathematics at Spartanburg Methodist College for 44 years until he was forced to leave because of illness. At that time, the SMC faculty awarded him the honorary distinction of Professor Emeritus. He also taught as an adjunct professor in the graduate summer program at Converse College for 31 years. David loved and was loved by his students, always encouraging them to strive for excellence while keeping them entertained with his wit and sometimes corny humor.
He was an avid tournament Scrabble player having won two national championships (1994 and 2016) as well as the Superstar Showdown and the Scrabble All Stars Championship, which led to appearances in "Sports Illustrated" and on national early morning television. At the time of his death, he was the highest rated Scrabble player in North America with a rating of 2200. The Scrabble community coined a word "Gibsonized" after him to indicate having clinched a tournament title before the tournament was over. David's other avocation was music. He was a gifted pianist and composed numerous original songs. During a four year hiatus from his Scrabble playing, he wrote music and some of the words to over 100 songs. He was also a sports enthusiast as a spectator (football, baseball, basketball and golf) and as a participant (tennis, golf, including miniature golf, and croquet).
David was a kind, generous, thoughtful, and humble man. He will be sorely missed and the world is diminished by his passing. In addition to his loving and beloved wife, he is survived by his parents, John and Gloria Gibson of Huntersville N.C.; sisters, Dayle G. Page (Frank) of Taylors, and Joan G. Randolph (Steve) of Gastonia, N.C.; stepsons, Christopher Webb (Lee) of Columbia and Patrick Webb (Linda) of Collierville TN.; nieces, Laura Brammer (Ben) of Anderson and Allison Scott (Jon) of Greenville; and nephew, John Randolph (Kristie) of Goldsboro, NC.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, November 30th, 11AM at Saint Christopher's Episcopal Church, Spartanburg, followed by a reception in the parish hall.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in David's honor to Spartanburg Methodist College, 1000 Powell Mill Rd., Spartanburg, S.C 29301, toward a scholarship in mathematics.
The family would like to thank the staff at Spartanburg Regional Hospice Home for the excellent care and compassion shown to David and his family in his final days.
Condolences may be expressed to the family at www.JMDunbar.com.
Dunbar Funeral Home & Crematory

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Published in Spartanburg Herald-Journal on Nov. 27, 2019.
Memorial service
11:00 AM
Saint Christopher’s Episcopal Church
Memories & Condolences
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13 entries
December 2, 2019
Dr. Gibson was my adviser and professor at SMC. He was so sweet, encouraging, smart, and funny! He made a great impact on a lot of students and will definitely be missed.
I have been praying for his family during this difficult time.
Kelsey Howard
December 2, 2019
Dear Mrs. Gibson and family,
We are saddened to learn of teh passing of your loved one and our Mathematics alumnus. Regrettably, I never had the opportunity to meet him. It sounds like he was a marvelous man who excelled in many areas. I wish we had been able to have him speak to our students about using Math to master Scrabble and other challenges.
Please accept our sincere sympathies.
On behalf of the faculty, staff and students of the University of Tennessee Mathematics Department
Don Eisenberg
December 1, 2019
We were very sad to hear about the passing of Mr. Gibson. I had the privilege of meeting him through my brother who had him as a professor. They became good friends, and Mr. Gibson and his wife Nancy had us over one night for dinner. Afterwards, we played Mr. Gibson in a game of Scrabble in which he clobbered Kevin and Myself when we were a team of one vs. Mr Gibson. He was an extremely nice guy!
Ryan Lanning
November 30, 2019
Sorry to hear about the passing of Mr. Gibson. He was a great professor and always willing to help. I had the opportunity to take 4 classes with Mr. Gibson as my professor (SMC Class of 2009). He had a huge impact on my education and career. Even in the recent years, Mr. Gibson was always willing to write a letter of recommendation for me. Also had the opportunity to get beat in scrabble but learned so much. Thankful for having the privilege to know Mr. Gibson.
Kevin Lanning
November 29, 2019
We were very sad to hear of David's passing. We had the pleasure of knowing him because our son Kevin had him as a professor at Spartanburg Methodist College. Kevin had always enjoyed math and David was a great math professor. Kevin talked very highly of him and really enjoyed David's classes. This gentleman took a sincere interest in his students and sure loved teaching. He was a very kind and modest man.
Robin Lanning
November 28, 2019
As a former neighbor, I have fond memories of this bright and kind man.
Andy Crosland
November 27, 2019
I am so sorry to hear of David's illness and passing. I had the pleasure of teaching with him for a while at Spartanburg Methodist College. He was a very kind and thoughtful person who was loved by his students and fellow faculty members. His passing is a tremendous loss to the college and to us all.
Joyce Coggins
November 27, 2019
A deep loss to the scrabble community . Humble intelligent and kind. RIP dear friend. Condolences to the family
Ruchi Gupta
November 27, 2019
Thank you to Professor Gibson's family for sharing him with the many students, faculty and staff of Spartanburg Methodist College. Mr. Gibson was so humble and kind! I remember him walking the aisles of his classroom on test days, flipping through his set of notecards and probably playing a fantastic game in his mind. Truly a brilliant man!
Carolyn Farr Shanesy
November 27, 2019
David wins National Game
It was an Honor to know David and Nancy as a Couple and to rejoice in their Friendships! David was a Champion in the Game of Scrabble and Nancy was always seeking new words to extend the Word usage ! David could visualize the words in His Mind and won the National Scrabble Games ! His dry Humor Was alway in tact which I admired ! To his Nancy and his Family may the Wonderful Memories of David Lift you Up and Give you Peace! David will be missed till we see him Again in Heaven and then Maybe I shall be able to play A Scrabble Game and sing a song with David ! Nancy , may God and His Angels lift you up and you are in Our Prayers ! Love , Mary Ann Powell Kirby
Mary a Ann Powell Kirby
November 27, 2019
I knew David in high school but lost track of him after that. Whoever wrote that lovely obituary captured the kid I knew. He was "sleeper smart" even then; a quiet guy who never drew attention to himself or his accomplishments. I'm sorry we never reconnected; it sounds like we had many common interests. My condolences to all who loved him.
Chip Davis
November 26, 2019
I had the pleasure of knowing Dave as a professor when I was in graduate school and as a colleague when traveled together with our calculus teams to compete in Georgia. He will always been known to me as "Super Dave" , a title we gave him in grad school! The world is a dimmer place without you.
Tania McDuffie
November 27, 2019
Offering our deepest sympathies during this time.
The Staff of J. M. Dunbar Funeral Home & Crematory
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