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Bill Gibson

Gibson FamilyForestry Pioneer

It seems that from the beginning, William K. "Bill" Gibson was born to be a forester. He was born in Ketchikan, Alaska and loved to do everything "outdoors" as a young man. When Bill was a teenager, he and his family moved to Montana. During the summers of his junior and senior years at Missoula County High School (now Missoula Hellgate) he worked for the USFS. The combination of working in the forest and a teacher's advice "not to pursue college" is probably what pushed Bill to not only pursue a career in forestry but as a forestry educator. He didn't let Gertie Clark's comment go lightly, and in fact, that teacher inspired a determinaton to not only pursue higher education to the PhD level but also to become an educator that encouraged others.

Bill worked for the USFS on a trail crew at Placid Lake the summer of his junior year in high school and also the summer after high school graduation, before enlisting and serving in the Navy for two years. In 1948, he was discharged and attended the University of Montana on the GI Gill, earning his Bachelor of Science in Forestry in 1952. While attending the University of Montana, he was a member of the Druids (Forestry Service Club) and enjoyed recreating with friends and introducing them to some of his favorite spots in Glacier National Park and the Bitterroot National Forest. After graduation he became a member of The Society of American Foresters and worked for The BLM in Oregon and Montana. In 1959 Bill had the opportunity to be one of the first researchers on the scene after the eathquake at Hebgen Lake near West Yellowstone because state land was involved. His photographs taken the morning after the quake show a massively changed landscape, and though it was a disaster, the geographical changes and recovery of the area were of great interest to him.

Bill pursued his Masters of Forestry degree from the University of Michigan, which he earned in 1962 saying, "I wish I could tell Gertie Clark!" He returned to Montna and became a professor at the University of Montana Forestry School. His published papers and research are still available and include topics still important to forestry today. Some of those items are; Erosion and Stream Health, Forest Land Fire Protection, Timber Resources and the Montana Forest Products Industry, to name a few. Bill Gibson had completed his PhD work (From the University of Michigan) and was teaching at the University of Montana Forestry School in Missoula when he died suddenly on October 25, 1970.

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