Walter Maxwell Gibson

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  • "Dear Alice and family, I would like you all to know of my..."
    - Cynthia Gabriel
  • "Dear Alice and Family, Pete and I were saddened to hear of..."
    - Genevieve Groesbeck
  • "Dear Alice and family: I have fond memories of Dr. Gibson...."
    - Cisca Sugiro
  • "Alice and family -- I have many fond memories of Walt..."
    - Carol G Maclennan
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    - Charles Scheu
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Gibson, Walter Maxwell CLARKSVILLE Walter Maxwell Gibson, of Clarksville, N.Y., passed away at home on Friday, May 15, 2009, surrounded by his family. He was born November 11, 1930 in Enoch, Utah to the late Murl and Vera Gibson. He led an exciting childhood in Southern Utah working as a sheepherder, doing stunts for Western movies, and playing saxophone in a dance band. His inquisitive nature led to love of science. This natural curiosity led him to study at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah, where he received an A.S in chemistry. He continued his studies at the University of Utah, where he was also a member of the ROTC. He was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the Air Force in December of 1953 and received his B.S. in chemistry in May of 1954. Walt continued his studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where his thesis advisor was Nobel Laureate Glen Seaborg, and was awarded his Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry in May of 1956. After completing his Ph.D., he served in the Air Force until 1958, when he moved to Basking Ridge, N.J. to work for Bell Telephone Laboratories as a member of the technical staff. While at Bell Labs, he did groundbreaking research in semiconductor detectors, radiation effects, and ion channeling which led to the success of the Telstar satellite. In 1976, Walt moved his family to their home in Clarksville, N.Y. where he took a position as the chairman of the physics department at the University at Albany, State University of New York (much to the delight of his children who thought it was funny that a chemist would be in charge of a physics department). He also held positions as the acting vice president for research and dean of graduate studies, and the director of the Center for X-Ray Optics. His favorite professional title, though, was that of Distinguished Service Professor which he was awarded in 1988. In 1998, he co-founded X-ray Optical Systems, and served as the chief technology officer until his death. His latest research was in collaboration with the Alzheimer's Center of Albany Medical Center. His greatest joy in life was his family. He was happiest when surrounded by his wife, children, and grandchildren. He loved to tell stories and listen to the commotion when everyone was around - often being the unseen instigator of the commotion. Among his latest projects was making his home a haven for his grandkids. He insisted that it would be great if their parents just dropped them off for a visit. He always felt that his family included friends, students, and colleagues. He rarely met someone without making a new friend. He was a man of faith and was very active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. His many years of service included five years as the bishop of the Albany Ward and later as a counselor in the branch presidency of the Greenville Branch. He was survived by his wife Alice; his children, David Gibson, Joyce Gibson, Jon Gibson, Jonna Barnaby, and Jennifer Brown; 20 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren; and his sisters, Maxine Barton, Merla Ashton, and Beth Wieland. He was predeceased by his daughter, Susan Gibson. Services will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 411 Loudon Rd., Loudonville, N.Y. on Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 5 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Walt's name to the Alzheimer's Center of Albany Medical Center, Mailcode: 65, 47 New Scotland Avenue, Albany, NY 12208.
Published in Albany Times Union from May 17 to May 18, 2009
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