It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our dear friend Mark Gibson. Mark passed away on Nov. 18 surrounded by family in Tomah, Wisconsin.
Mark leaves behind a legacy of a true unionist whose tireless efforts and commitment to our cause inspired us here at AFGE and those around him. His deep knowledge about the Defense Department knew no bounds, his work on behalf of DoD employees tremendous.
Mark’s federal career began at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, where he became president of AFGE Local 1882 in 1992. In the mid-1990s, Mark and National Vice President Emeritus Charlotte Flowers, with the support National President Emeritus Bobby Harnage, held a Department of Defense Conference (DEFCON) in Atlanta, Georgia. The purpose was for DoD members to join together in fighting for those issues important to DoD. From the onset, Mark established bedrock principles that have withstood the test of time and the many attacks by unfriendly members of Congress. Representation, issue organizing, and grassroots mobilization are the principles still guiding DEFCON's commitment even today.
In 2003, Mark retired from the federal government and took a position at AFGE working in the Field Services Department. He was immediately assigned to work and support DEFCON and the futuristic visions that DEFCON had moving forward. His desire was to provide as much help, assistance, and guidance to as many DoD activists as possible, every day and all the time. Through his unwavering commitment and inspiration, DEFCON has and will always strive to achieve its goals and vision.
“Mark was my best friend. This is very hard,” said DEFCON Chair Don Hale. “I was his vice chair and have been the DEFCON chair for the past 17 years where I admired his dedication and work ethic, and I loved him as a friend.”
Patty Leonard, AFGE District 4 National Representative and former DEFCON vice chair, recalled how Mark was a very smart man with a mind like a steel trap. He improved the lives of all the people he represented at Fort McCoy. He was as fierce as he was kind.
“Everyone at the Pentagon knew, in order to engage the bulk of DoD federal employees, they were going to have to deal with AFGE and ultimately Mark Gibson and Don Hale,” Leonard said.
“Mark is regarded as a friend, brother, co-worker, mentor, DEFCON Labor Relations Specialist, mastermind, and more importantly, the premiere resource for all things DoD and AFGE grassroots activism,” she added. “There just are not enough superlatives to describe him. He will be a huge loss for AFGE, the labor movement, his family, and friends.”
Mark recently retired from our union. He leaves behind in others the conviction and will to carry on. He will be truly missed.
A Celebration of Life
Mark’s friends and family will gather at the Cranberry Country Lodge, in Tomah, Wisconsin, on December 6, 2018 between 4p.m. and 8p.m. to celebrate his life. Online condolences can be given here.