By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Rep. David Gibbs, 76, who was described as a quiet leader in the Mississippi House, died early Sunday morning at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo.
The West Point Democrat was known for his advocacy for agriculture, county government and education. Before beginning his tenure in the state House in 1993, Gibbs, a farmer, served as a Clay County supervisor.
“He has been nothing but a dear friend to me,” said Rep. Tyrone Ellis, D-Starkville, who said Gibbs’ wife, Annie Louis, informed him of his death Sunday morning. “He had a quiet resolve. He was not outspoken, but when he had a passion for something he would speak out.”
The Mississippi Democratic Party described Gibbs as “a soft-spoken common-sense leader who served us well.”
Various sources said Gibbs had been battling cancer. On Tuesday, the opening day of the 2013 session, Gibbs sent a letter saying because of illness he was resigning from the House.
“I thank God for the many years I have served the people of my district,” the letter read.
But Gibbs then sent another letter saying he was not resigning. Gibbs’ first letter never was filed with the Secretary of State’s office as is required for resignations, so he remained a member of the House until his death.
House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, said Sunday, “Lisa and I are saddened by the news of Rep. Gibbs’ passing. He was a great legislator who will be missed tremendously.”
Speaking of Gibbs when it was believed that he had resigned from the House, Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, said, “He is an incredible resource on agriculture. He had the best people skills – very slow talking and very methodical. But he always demanded results.”
Gibbs’ District 36 consisted of most of Clay County and portions of Monroe and Lowndes. Sen. Bennie Turner, D-West Point, who represented Clay County in the Senate, died in November, meaning the county currently has no legislator whose primary area of representation is that county. A special election is scheduled Tuesday to fill the slot left vacant by Turner.
Ellis, who represents a portion of Clay County, said, “I am going to reach out to the citizens to let them know that I will be here since they have no legislator currently domiciled in Clay County, so to speak.”
In the coming days, Gov. Phil Bryant will call a special election to fill Gibbs’ slot, though it will not be filled until late in the 90-day session at best.