Michael A. Gibson, 77, died Monday, May 24, 2021, of complications from pancreatic cancer. He was born on September 7, 1943 in Dallas, Texas.
Professionally, Mike will be remembered for an illustrious career which included being a pivotal member of the Apollo XIII Mission Operations Team. President Nixon awarded the entire team a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor given, for their efforts in returning the astronauts home to Earth. He also was awarded 6 separate US patents, including 2 patents related to manufacturing processes on the moon. In 1981 he invented a process to extract oxygen on the moon in a partnership with the Shimizu Corporation, in an effort to build a permanent lunar base. This process was successfully tested using actual materials from the moon in a simulated weightless flight coordinated through NASA.
Mike graduated from Cascia Hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He earned his bachelors and masters in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University. After earning his doctorate in Chemical Engineering from Rice University, he was accepted into the Army Candidate School. As a First Lieutenant he was assigned to NASA, which is where he became involved in Apollo XIII. Mike was honorably discharged in 1973.
In 1973 Mike joined Exxon Research and Engineering. There he helped develop new patented processes for the gasification of shale. In 1981 he cofounded Carbotek, Inc. In 1998 Carbotek was sold to ChemOrganics, for whom Mike worked as a consultant until 2009.
Mike was extremely active in the Explorers Club, acting as the Texas Chapter President in 1997-1998. He also was involved in the Kiwanis Club, St. Luke’s Methodist Church, the Executives Association of Houston, River Oaks Men’s Breakfast Club, Space City Ski Club, and as a board member for the Rice Department of Chemical Engineering and Biochemical Engineering.
Mike has been a dedicated family man. His father, Horace Gibson, a successful oil producer, died suddenly from a heart attack when Mike was 12 years old. He remained close to his stepmother, his two stepsisters, and his sister until their passing. His first and late wife was Rose Mary Rogers. They had no children.
In 2007 Mike married Donna Kidwell. Donna loves to call Mike her “trophy husband” due to his good looks and classic gentlemanly demeanor. He was a wonderful stepfather to her two children, as well as having a tremendous impact on he and Donna’s 4 grandchildren.
Mike and Donna loved to travel with their friends from Egypt, Africa, Russia, Alaska, Italy and much more. Their second home was in Nashville, Tennessee.
Mike leaves a rich legacy, remembered for his brilliance, unsurpassed integrity, and his ultra rare gift of being incapable of saying an unkind word about anything or anybody. He was an engineer’s engineer, with an insistence on being useful --- whether in the lab as a distinguished researcher, a mentor to young engineers starting out their careers, or as the man of the house.
Some people make the world special just by being in it. This was Mike. He will especially be remembered for his devotion and enduring love for his “Darling Donna.”
Mike is survived by his wife Donna; stepchildren Shane and Shelley; step-granddaughters Mikayla Eckert, Cassidy Eckert, Kaitlin Eckert, and Coraline Kidwell; nephew Gib Bardin, his wife Erin and children from Dallas, Texas. Mike had many dear friends and adopted family members.
A special thanks goes to Mike’s nurse Noreen Shaw.
The celebration of Mike’s life will be held on June 1, 2021 at one o’clock in the afternoon at St Luke’s United Methodist Church, 3471 Westheimer Road in Houston. A reception will follow in the Fellowship Hall. Burial will be at four o’clock that afternoon at Glenwood Cemetery, 2525 Washington Avenue. The service will be livestreamed as well: https://www.stlukesmethodist.org/memorial-livestream/
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be directed in Mike’s memory to Rice or Cornell Universities’ Departments of Chemical Engineering or to St Luke’s United Methodist Church.