The Right Reverend Gabriel Gibbs, OSB, the first abbot of Saint Benedict Abbey in Still River, died on Saturday, March 27, after a long bout with cancer.
Joseph William “Bill” Gibbs, the eldest of four children of the late Sidney and Margaret (Gleason) Gibbs, was born on May 19, 1926 in the city of Hornell, in western New York, the city where he also spent his formative years and for which he retained a deep affection. After graduating as valedictorian of the 1944 class of Hornell High School, Bill entered Harvard College. His studies there were interrupted after his freshman year when he enlisted in the Navy, and after intense study served as the first radio technician on the USS Passumpsic, AO-107 both in the Atlantic and the Pacific.
Returning to Harvard, Bill discovered Saint Benedict Center, a Catholic student center in Cambridge, run by Catherine Goddard Clarke and noted for the lectures of Father Leonard Feeney, SJ, which was attracting many veterans and college students in the area. Inspired by the Center, Bill left Harvard before his senior year to enter Saint Andrew’s Minor Seminary in Rochester, N.Y.; graduating there he went on to Saint Bernard’s Seminary.