Samuel Gibbs Milliken Jr.
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Gibbs Milliken (1935 - 2007) Professor Samuel Gibbs Milliken, Jr. of West Lake Hills, a naturalist and expeditionary artist, lived a life of adventure. He was born in Houston on December 15, 1935, and passed away in Austin on November 20, 2007. He is survived by his devoted wife of 45 years, Marie Splittgerber Milliken; daughter, Tamara Milliken Galbi and husband Dwight, daughter, Adana Milliken Gipson and husband Mike; grandsons, David and Paul Gipson; sister, Alice Milliken Combs; numerous nieces, nephews, and their families. His parents, Dr. Samuel Gibbs and Harriet Bain Milliken, and sister Harriet Milliken Gould, preceded him in death. Primarily raised in Kerrville, Texas, Gibbs graduated from Schreiner Institute, attended the University of Colorado, and received his Bachelor of Science degree from Trinity University in San Antonio. He began his career with Texas Parks and Wildlife as a field photographer and served as curator of natural science and exhibitions at the Witte Museum in San Antonio. He then completed his Master of Fine Arts in 1965 at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. Upon receiving his master's degree, he accepted a teaching position with the University of Texas at Austin. Always a dreamer and an idea man, Gibbs made a profound impact on those he mentored during his 41 years as a Professor of Art and Latin American Studies. An excellent teacher and communicator, he touched the lives of countless minds as he conveyed a rare aesthetic view of the world. His legacy also lives on in his artistic works, which include paintings, drawings, and photographs. Public and private collections house his works, some of which include the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, and the Butler Institute of American Art. His career had many facets, including work as an artist with the NASA Apollo Space Program moon surface materials and the NASA Tektite II Underseas Project. He had a great passion for Latin America and led numerous expeditions into the Amazonian rainforest. As a lover of indigenous cultures and director of the Organization for Tropical Research, Gibbs documented and collected ethnographic artifacts, some of which he donated to the Houston Museum of Natural History. Although he traveled widely, Gibbs most enjoyed Texas' natural resources and found pleasure in fly-fishing its many waterways and gulf coast. A gear and gadgets lover, he was a writer and photographer for Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine for many years and worked on these articles even in the last few weeks of his life. The family would like to thank: Drs. Kent Beasley, Shad Dabaghi, Ksenija Corak, and John Whitaker; their staffs, and Seton and Cornerstone Hospitals. These people, along with many close friends, enabled Gibbs to continue with his dreams while fighting his illnesses. Please join the family for a celebration of Gibbs' life on Thursday, November 29, 2007, 3:00 p.m., at the Riverbend Church Smith Chapel, 4214 Capital of Texas Hwy North (Loop 360) Austin, Texas. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Gibbs Milliken Scholarship Fund, Department of Art and Art History, The University of Texas, 1 University Station D-1300 Austin, Texas 78712-0337.

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Published in Austin American-Statesman on Nov. 26, 2007.
Memories & Condolences
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16 entries
December 4, 2007
I pulled out an old photo album containing pictures I took on a group trip to Venezuela with Gibbs 20 years ago. I wanted to see again the one where he got up and spontaneously started playing the drums with a group of musicians and singers at the resort in Canaima. Then I thought about the airplane ride (727) into Canaima, where Gibbs got so excited because we had some crazy Venezuelan pilot that he had told us stories about in Caracas. We had taken his stories about this guy with a grain of salt, but, just as Gibbs had foretold, this pilot flew us right by Angel Falls within spitting distance, then right over the top of a tupuy - so close that when he did an extremely sharp 180 degree turn-around you could’ve seen a monkey waving in the trees below. The banking turn was so sharp I was afraid the wings would touch the trees and some passengers even got sick. After the turn, the crazy pilot dropped the plane into a nosedive off the edge of the tupuy, pulling up right over the top of the jungle below, then flying the plane a scant few feet above the surface of the Orinoco River. Looking out the cabin windows we could see the jungle trees on either side. During this whole escapade Gibbs was up in the cockpit watching and talking to the pilot. He buzzed Canaima a couple times, then finally set the plane down, and we all agreed with Gibbs that some day he was going to scatter a planeload of tourists across the top of one of those tupuys.

It was with profound sadness that I received the news of Gibbs’ death. It is hard to comprehend how someone so much larger than life could ever be gone. It brought up many feelings, such as guilt for not staying in touch over recent years, and sorrow that it’s now too late to call him up and visit, as I’ve thought of doing so many times over the intervening years since we used to socialize at Maggie Mae’s and the Kerrville Folk Festival. It also brought a flood of memories of great, enjoyable times spent in his captivating company. The memories are so close, so vivid that I feel his presence even now. I hear that laugh of his; I see the twinkle in his eyes. I’m not sure I’ve ever met someone so full of the energy of and passion for life as Gibbs. His stamina was legendary in terms of all that he did and all the pursuits and projects he simultaneously juggled. It was never, ever boring, and always a treat and an educational experience to be around him. What a unique, fascinating person he was; even in his name. I miss him and will always remember him well.
Chris Edmonds
December 1, 2007
Gibbs and childhood friend Judd Lundt, Port Aransas, Spring 1960
Gibbs Milliken and I were childhood best friends from the time we were about 6 years old until his family relocated from Houston to Kerrville in the late 40’s. We lived about a block from each other and got together just about every day. Gibbs was in a private school so we only had the afternoons, during the week.

One our favorite activities was to get caught up in the latest radio episodes of Terry and the Pirates, Captain Midnight, Jack Armstrong, and a host of other programs that pushed Wheaties, Ovaltine, and numerous other products mothers were urged by their children to purchase.

Every afternoon, following the soaps, we would perch on child-sized chairs facing each other on opposite sides of the Milliken’s old wooden console and through the magic of radio, experience the perilous adventures of our heroes. It was pure fantasy but a reality to us.

Saturdays it was the “Fun Club” at the Almeda Theater where for 9 cents admission one could enjoy a western with a scores of other screaming kids and see the latest installment of a serial that left the hero in an impossibly perilous position which begged return the following weekend to witness his clever escape.

Other times we would play “boy” games like cowboys and Indians and cops and robbers. We also spent countless hours exploring the dimly lit attic, crammed with wonderful old junk and treasures that included a real human skull and a silk top hat that played prominently in our annual Halloween preparations. One rainy weekend as we nosed through his dad’s medical books were astonished to discover that babies were not brought by storks. Those wonderful times would be the envy of any kid growing up, even today and will forever occupy a very special spot in my mind.

That all came to an end with the move to Kerrville. We did try to keep in touch through a few letters and even a visit to their Jack Drive home a few years later. But as we grew through adolescence, our attitudes changed, new friends entered our lives and the past was set aside. But the relationship, though sporadic, endured.

Over the ensuing years our paths crossed on several occasions: at Schreiner in Kerrville, the University of Colorado, and in San Antonio while I was completing USAF Officer training in 1960. Then came a long period of career and family building when we lost touch. But about ten years ago we managed to reconnect during a business trip I made to Austin. My oldest daughter and grandson, whose family were living there at the time joined me, Gibbs and his wife, Marie, for coffee. As expected, we traded experiences and personal anecdotes from our more recent past but sadly it became clear that we were now strangers living in different worlds. You can’t just pick up where you left off after all that time. It’s a harsh thought but you really can’t go home again. That was the last communication we had.

A few days ago a spontaneous impulse sent me to the internet seeking any news of Gibbs. That was the first such time since our Austin get- together. It was with great sorrow that I learned of his passing. Although we had gone our separate ways I still thought of him as a friend and always will and treasure the moments we enjoyed together. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to his family and other friends he left behind.
judd lundt
November 30, 2007
Gibbs was the father of one of my best friends, Adana. I don't know how many times we would spend the night at the Milliken's house and sneak around Gibbs' studio among the beads, masks, blowguns, butterflies, shells, canvases, and more. It was an exciting place full of treasures and stories, all of which Gibbs was more than happy to spend hours regaling us with (and perhaps embellishing a bit, too). He was there when I caught a 24" redfish in Port Aransas on the jetty, he brought a shaman to a party at the house Adana and I shared in college, he played darts with us, he was a fascinating man, and he will be sorely missedby everyone who knew him.
Paula Simchak
November 28, 2007
First met Gibbs on an expedition to Venezuela with my dad in 1993. It is still one of the most interesting trips we've had together. Later I knew Gibbs as a friend and customer at the local sporting goods store I worked for. Gibbs was one of a kind, the Amazon wont be the same without him.
Karl Adcock
November 28, 2007
Gibbs was very influential to Karen and myself. Over two decades ago he planted the seeds that eventually became our wilderness project Proyecto de Buceo Espeleologico Mexico y America Central. His gift to us gave us the world. He was often discussed around the campfire and when we had our little jungle home in Belize we realized that we had been there before with Gibbs and his stories.
Through his stories he allowed us see the natural world in its detail, much as his art did. He had simply painted a picture in words and art that made us want to "be there". He elegantly pointed us south to Mexico and then on to the jungles and the mountains of Central America. The wilderness completed the seduction. Our life of adventure and love of the peoples of Latin America was the result of just listening to his contagious excitement and child like enthusiasm for places rare and beautiful. The jungles, rivers and mountains of this big Blue Marble of ours will miss you Gibbs. So will we.

Jim Bowden and Karen Hohle – Bertram, Texas
Jim and Karen Bowden and Hohle
November 27, 2007
Gibbs was a down the street neighbor of ours on Rolling Wood Dr in Austin when we moved there in 1967. In that year we purchased two of his numbered prints directly from him (wheat & butterfly) They have hung in our home since. Now in LV NV. Wish I could have known him better. A talented gentleman and true Texan.
ken johnson
November 27, 2007
The classroom unravelled as yet another grand adventure for Gibbs Milliken. For an avid outdoorsman who doubled as an arts educator, Milliken understood that eager young minds were but verdant landscapes, awaiting the gentle rain of a kindly, generous teacher. Gibbs viewed the student intellect with as much fascination as he did the forest primeval. Their burgeoning insights were like delicate and fascinating flowers in a jungle canopy. Thus he revelled in offering creative possibility to both his fine arts and Latin American studies charges. What his students brought to the classroom in terms of anticipation, enthusiasm, and a hunger for knowledge, Milliken returned to them in equal measure through encyclopedic knowledge with a showman's aplomb. Dapperly attired in the most khaki he could don, Gibbs veritably twinkled as he stood before bemused classes and regaled them with his most recent field exploits...only to wind up at the point of that day's lecture! For precisely how his above-the-calf-leather-lace-up boots were not only stylish but could also turn the venomous bite of a fer-de-lance snake would neatly tie in with his lecture on the importance of form-following-function in design. His teaching method was both entertaining and didactic: exactly as the most memorable and profound educators should be. As his students thirsted for wisdom, Gibbs was a draught of cool and refreshing water. No stodgy, tweed-covered old poot was he; but an agile mind
who delighted in conveying the wealth of his experience with paint, cameras and indigenous cultures. To the adventuresome generations following in his wake, Gibbs Milliken boldly exemplified the ongoing quest for knowledge in education and by his fine example showed us all the thrill in discovering it. Gibbs was first my professor then a guide to the Venezuelan Amazon but always my friend and fishing buddy. I will miss him dearly.
Chris Scroger
November 27, 2007
From the moment I met Tamara's dad, Gibbs Milliken, I knew he was a force of nature! For me, his greatest legacy is his daughter, Tamara, who embodies his loving spirit and unsurpassed kindness. Although we can't be with you to celebrate his life, we will rejoice by enjoying the day and living it to the fullest. "We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind..."
Zandra Zuniga
November 27, 2007
I am glad that our careers intersected after I came to UT, so very long ago, in 1970, to take on administrative responsibilities in the Institute of Latin American Studies. Gibbs was one of the truly outstanding colleagues in our program, and every encounter was a delight, whether in the halls, in a committee meeting, or when he came in to discuss a project. His suggestions and project proposals were invariably of high merit, and simply observing his creative mind at work through the ideas he presented and the camera work at which he excelled was sheer delight. Besides, he was quite simply the most amiable of colleagues, an aspect of his being that endeared him also to the entire staff of the Institute. I looked forward to our meetings or simply to chance encounters in the halls of the Institute or elsewhere on campus, as well as to the wonderfully sensitive and insightful products of his skills as an artist. The campus community is much diminished by his leaving us, and in a way I am glad that my own retirement last summer followed Gibbs's retirement so closely. The place was not the same without him. My deepest sympathy to all the family for the loss we share with you. May the recollection of his abundant talents and his generous spirit sustain you through the inevitable days of grieving that lie ahead.
Bill Glade
November 27, 2007
I took a course in color slide photography from Gibbs the summer of 1973. I remember him telling stories of Comfort, TX, Belize, and undersea expeditions. I met Gibbs at Laguna Gloria several years later, and he remembered me. He was a very warm and encouraging person. I will never forget him.
Frank Robinson
November 26, 2007
Gibbs was naturist even in grade school days in Kerrville, a daydreamer of things to come and an observer of things past. Always a step ahead. Godspeed.
Herman Randall Leatherman
November 26, 2007
la terria de los perdernales.
November 26, 2007
Gibbs was one of Precision Camera's "Regulars" He was the ultimate gaget guy. Always testing out the newest camera, lens,tripod or accessory. We loved his wry sense of humor and different world view. He has left us all way too soon. My condolences to the family from all of us here at Precison Camera.
Jerry Sullivan
November 26, 2007
I am sadden to hear of Gibb's passing. He and I enjoyed our work together while I was at The University (1987-2001) and I cherish the many memories from my association with him. My condolences to the entire family, especailly Marie his devoted and lovely wife.
David Willard
November 26, 2007
Layne Lundstrom
November 26, 2007
A wonderful fishing friend and advisor. He will be sorely missed and remembered fondly.
Ray Smith
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