May/June 2014
In memoriam: Judge John R. Gibson

U.S. Court of Appeals Judge John R. Gibson passed away on April 19, 2014, in Reading, Massachusetts, at the
age of 88. He was born on December 20, 1925, in Springfield, Missouri. Gibson served in the United States Army as Staff Sergeant with the Medical Detachment of the 693rd Quartermaster Battalion from 1944-1946.
His unit served in Europe and the Philippines during World War II and in Japan after the war for occupation
services. He was decorated with ribbons for his participation in two theaters of operations.

He attended the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he received his bachelor’s degree in economics
in 1949 and his law degree in 1952. Following law school, he became an associate at the Kansas City firm of Morrison, Hecker, Curtis, Kuder & Parrish. He made partner in 1957 and worked there for 29 years until 1981, engaged primarily in trial and appellate work.

etc.In 1981 he was appointed as a U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Missouri to a seat vacated by Elmo B. Hunter. Six months later, he was elevated to the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in 1982. He filled the seat vacated by Floyd R. Gibson, no relation.

Judge Gibson contributed greatly to the welfare and jurisprudence of the Eighth Circuit. In Jenkins v. Missouri, he helped desegregate Kansas City’s school system. In a landmark abortion rights case, Hodgson v. Minnesota, he authored the en banc opinion ruling that a Minnesota statute requiring underage women to notify parents 48 hours before having an abortion was constitutional because it provided a procedure for the minor to seek a court waiver of the requirement. He dissented against lifting limits on campaign contributions in Missouri, writing that free speech rights of political parties are not more important than those of individuals.

As a jurist, Judge Gibson was respected for his intellect, integrity, and fairness. He was also known for his unfailing good humor, conviviality, and a zest for life. Known as “the dining judge” by his colleagues, he was a catalyst for pleasant dinner gatherings where he savored a good meal, starting with a glass of wine and ending with a bowl of ice cream. Judge Gibson assumed senior status on January 1, 1994 and retired on January 26, 2011. He served on the U.S. Judicial Conference’s Magistrates Committee, 1987-1991, and Security, Space and Facilities Committee, 1995-2001. The Court of Appeals will hold a memorial session in Judge Gibson’s honor on October 9, 2014 in St. Paul.