2011's Outstanding Citizen: Tupelo's Gibens personifies servant leadership

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – L.E. “Bo” Gibens was celebrated by his hometown during the 48th Junior Auxiliary Charity Ball on Friday.
Gibens said he was shocked when he realized Pam Smith, JA president, was listing his accomplishments.
“I feel like this town is a wonderful town to grow up in,” the Tupelo native said, “and a wonderful town to give back to.”
Gibens is the son of Alliene Gibens, a 1981 Outstanding Citizen winner. He said his mother encouraged her children to give back to the community.
“We’ve always tried to do that,” he said, as his family members shared the BancorpSouth Arena stage with him.
Gibens earned an engineering degree from Mississippi State University, and got a job as a project engineer at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
“Later, after joining a consultant engineering firm in the apparel industry for two years, he moved back to Tupelo to take a position as manufacturing manager of Lucky Star Industries,” Smith said during Gibens’ introduction, “and from there became president and eventually acquired ownership.”
Smith said Gibens’ volunteer efforts arguably are more impressive than his success in business.
He’s an Eagle Scout and winner of the Boy Scouts’ Silver Beaver Award. He’s been a member of the Yocona Area Council Executive Board since 1975.
“Bo served two terms as chairman of North Mississippi Health Services and was also selected to help lead the hospital’s foundation as chairman,” said Lewis Whitfield, senior vice president with CREATE Foundation and a past Outstanding Citizen winner. “He has been president of the Tupelo Kiwanis Club, president of the Community Relations Association and chairman of the Tupelo Airport Authority.”
Past Outstanding Citizen winner Aubrey Patterson, chairman and CEO of BancorpSouth, said he’s worked with Gibens for more than 30 years.
“Bo has been a strong leader in practically every worthwhile area of effort in and around Tupelo,” Patterson said. “He has unhesitatingly contributed his leadership skills and financial acumen to many worthwhile causes.”
Gibens is on the board of directors of the Community Development Foundation, and he’s a member of the Society of International Business Fellows.
“He is also a strong supporter of the Tupelo Children’s Mansion, Palmer Home for Children, Boys and Girls Clubs of North Mississippi, The Salvation Army and the list goes on,” Smith said.
He and his wife, Joyce Rousseau Gibens, have four children, Leslie Burks, Brad Gibens, Leighton Gibens and Eric Gibens, and 11 grandchildren.
Burks nominated her father for the award, calling him “the most wonderful father, husband and grandfather that anyone could ever have.”
She said there were others as deserving of the award as her father, but none were more deserving.
“I would like to share one example that touches my heart,” she said. “When he owned a business in Nettleton, he built a day care beside the factory, so that employees who worked for him could have a convenient and safe place for their children to stay and to learn. As a parent myself, this speaks volumes of his character.”
In supporting Gibens’ nomination, Tupelo’s Grace Clark said the honoree wouldn’t expect to find himself at the center of attention on Friday.
“Bo’s humility would make an award such as this a real surprise,” she said, “but it would be richly deserved.”
Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@journalinc.com.