Mar 23, 2007    #040
Contact: Nick Barron

Gibson sings song of success

Before Dick Gibson would become the 2007 Bloch School Alumni Achievement Award winner, he was denied being able to sing his first choice for his senior recital.

Gibson chose a particular section by Braham, now forgotten in time, to sing at his senior recital at UMKC’s Conservatory of Music. His voice teacher, however, felt he was too young and inexperienced to be able to convey the piece’s emotion.

As Gibson prepared for his senior recital, he had yet to marry, live through Vietnam, work for General Colin Powell, and raise a family. The experiences and events of Gibson’s life over the past 61 years show the Raytown, Mo., native did pretty well for himself.

After graduating from UMKC’s Conservatory of Music in 1967, Gibson had every intention of becoming a professional singer, and he may have been able to do it if not for the Vietnam War.

Facing being drafted, Gibson auditioned for the U.S. Air Force choral group, “The Singing Sergeants,” and was accepted. The Air Force, however, could not take him for six months, meaning Gibson would be drafted by the Army in the meantime.

Realizing he had few choices, Gibson went ahead and enlisted in the Army. As a college graduate, he could enlist for officer’s candidate school (OCS), which would last 6 months beyond basic training, and his hopes were that the Vietnam War would be over by then. Since the war was really expanding and a short assignment at Fort Benning, GA as a tactical officer in OCS, Gibson landed in Vietnam as a second lieutenant in February 1969. After one-year in combat, he returned to the States at Fort Leonard Wood, MO.

“I can say, having gone (to war) as a lieutenant versus a private, it was a little better,” Gibson said. “Although you’re out there with your soldiers day-in and day-out, so you are going through the same experiences, and some of those experiences were rather horrific.”

After the war, Gibson was offered the rank of captain, which he accepted for one-year as a way to save enough money to pay a major portion for graduate school. Nearly halfway through his first year as a captain in the Army, he realized he enjoyed military life. With his wife, Ruie, supporting his decision, Gibson embraced a career in the military, a career that lasted 26 years.

During his time in the Army, Gibson served as battalion commander at Fort Sill, Okla., chief of executive services working for Brigadier General Colin Powell at Fort Leavenworth, KS, then again, at the Pentagon, he served General Powell, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, as the Army’s chief of executive services from the office of the Secretary of the Army and Chief of staff of the Army. Gibson’s final assignment was as chief of staff, Command & General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS, after which he retired as a colonel in September 1993.

When he left the military, Gibson took advantage of the GI Bill and enrolled in the EMBA (executive masters of business administration) program at the Henry W. Bloch School of Business and Public Administration at UMKC.

Currently serving as the vice president and chief administrative officer of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Gibson credits the Bloch School as launching his non-military career to a higher level. The largest benefit he has received from the EMBA program is the networking opportunities with Kansas City’s business elite.

“I am very appreciative of the experience I had at the UMKC Bloch School in the EMBA program, because the relationships you build are critical to the education received,” Gibson said. “Because of my classmates and professors, I can pick up the phone and know that I can reach somebody very quickly and get an answer or a response to a business question. It’s those relationships I was seeking, and I received it.”

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health sciences, and urban affairs.

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This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).


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