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Former Troy commissioner, Al Gibbs, dies

Features Editor

Wednesday was "a sad day" in Troy city hall as employees and officials mourned the death of former council member Al Gibbs.

"It’s a sad day for us," said Mayor Jimmy Lunsford. "He has been a longtime friend and mentor of mine

he was always someone I could call on for advice, maybe you’d say encouragement "

Gibbs, 80, died Wednesday in Dothan. A retiree from International Paper, he served as a council member in Troy from 1968 until 1983.

Friends said Gibbs was straight-forward and shot from the hip and people liked and respected him for that.

As a city commissioner, those were attributes that made him a popular politician and that says a lot for a man.

James Ray and David Conrad served with Gibbs on the city commission and rotated positions as department heads every year.

"Every third year, you were mayor and no matter what department Al headed, he did an outstanding job of it," Ray said. "One thing that made him such a good public servant was that he knew people all over the country. He could pick up the telephone and call anywhere and get the information he needed, and most of the time, exactly what he needed. Al was a real asset to the citizens of Troy and as good a commissioner as anybody could want. Everybody like Al Gibbs."

What made Gibbs such an effective leader was his ability to organize.

"He was very efficient in everything he did," Ray said. "You could depend on him for anything and, if he told you something, you would know it was the truth. He was a good, honest man. But, he didn’t pull any punches. He would tell you exactly what he thought about something and exactly what his position was and you could depend on him to see it through."

Gibbs was also willing to listen when others spoke to him.

"One thing about

Al, he had good ideas, but he was also willing to listen to your ideas," Ray said. "If your idea was better than his, he would work just as hard to make it work as he would his own. He always worked to the city’s advantage. That’s just the kind of man he was."

Being that "kind of man," it came as no surprise to David Conrad that Gibbs wanted to do something to make life better for the employees of the city of Troy.

"Me, being in the insurance business, and Al, the manager of International Paper, we both had retirement plans and we knew what that kind of security meant to us," Conrad said. "Al wanted the city employees to have some kind of security in their later years. He wanted to do something for them as far as retirement, so we put a 2-cent tax on cigarettes and a 2-cent tax on beer and passed a retirement plan."

Conrad said some of those employees who were on that first city retirement plan are benefiting today.

"Al wouldn’t have gone as far as he did if he hadn’t been a good administrator," he said. "Whatever he was called on to do, he did and he did it well."

Conrad cited a fire that destroyed several buildings on Elm Street.

"Al was the police commissioner then and he handled that fire like he’d been doing it all his life," Conrad said. "He was good at whatever he did. People respected him and just liked being around him. He was just that kind of man."

Editor’s

note: Mayor Lunsford has asked that all flags in Troy be flown at half-staff through Friday in memory of Gibbs.

Messenger Publisher Stacy Graning contributed to this report.