Richard Charles Gibbs passed away unexpectedly Friday, April 28, 2023, at his home. He was born June 19, 1947, in Kalamazoo, son of the late Claire and Lucille (Green) Gibbs and had been a lifelong area resident. Richard grew up in Scotts, MI where he attended Climax-Scotts Schools. He graduated in the class of 1967. He met the love of his life Mary (Tolmacs) Gibbs, and they were married September 16, 1967. Rich was drafted to the Army and served in Vietnam. He was shot in the arm and was stitched up and went back out to retrieve his fellow service men. While doing so he was shot 3 more times. He carried one of the bullets still in his body because it was too risky to remove. Rich returned from Vietnam and was stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas. They lived in Kansas until he was discharged from the Army as disabled with honors of a Silver Star. Rich and Mary returned home to Kalamazoo, MI where they lived the remainder of their lives.
Rich started work at Michigan Disposal in Portage Michigan. He started out as a can pickup driver, moved up to dumpsters and was chosen to be the first front end loader driver for the company. He was also the “star” of some of the training videos they recorded here in Kalamazoo. After several name changes to the company, he had worked as a sanitation driver for 49 ½ years. He was nominated 3 times as driver of the year while working at Republic Services. He made many friends with “the guys” from work. In the early days it was donuts at Dunkin Donuts on Portage Road and then they changed to Sweetwater’s in later years. The breakfast club boys consisted of Bill, Rick, Jay, Jamie, and many more to name. The breakfast club of them moved breakfast to Uncle Erine’s Pancake House to this day. They all had a special bond together. One of the “breakfast club boys” still owes his daughters a pony.
Rich and the family enjoyed vacations. They had traveled “Up North” to Uncle Claire's cabin in Dublin, MI numerous times. Riding dune buggies on the trails, having a beach day at the lake, the old red barn flea market and of course going to the Dublin store to get the world’s best jerky. They also enjoyed trips to Mackinaw City and Tahquamenon Falls. Then there was a two-week vacation to Nashville, Washington DC, and then Niagara Falls with four people and luggage all packed in their four door Chevette.
After retirement Rich enjoyed spur of the moment road trips with his girls and grandchildren. They could start out as just a ride in the country but end up in Chicago to get pizza for dinner. He also enjoyed going on rides with his brother Claire. If you woke up in the morning on the weekend and he was not home, you knew they were out for a drive.
Rich enjoyed spending time with his family. He enjoyed gardening and having huge gardens. He had planted a rose garden for his beautiful wife Mary. Rich passed to his daughter Ronda his skills of being a gardener. He enjoyed watching his grandkids play soccer. Rich purchased a 1960’s Kinskill camper for his daughters to have a “she shed” in his yard. He would come down to the “she shed” and hang out with the girls all the time. He enjoyed watching movies with all the family around, but they had to make sure they got the remote from him before he took a nap because he would change the channel while sleeping. Rich loved having dinner with the family together. You had better watch out though on Easter, he was known for throwing mashed potatoes across the table if you said you needed potatoes.
Rich was known by all to be a big teddy bear. Always smiling and making people feel welcome. If someone new started at work, he would always make sure to talk to them and become lifelong friends. Rich was the kindest man known on earth.
On September 16, 1967, Richard married the former Mary M. Tolmacs, who preceded him in death on May 14, 2017. He was also preceded in death by four siblings, Geraldine Emmons, Caroline Knauss, Joan Knauss, and David Gibbs. Richard is survived by his children, Micheal Gibbs, Ronda Underdah, and Mellisa (Tommy) Gibbs-Skelton; grandchildren, Richard (Brittany) Gibbs, Tiffany McCoy, Abigail Gibbs, Michael (Amber) Gibbs, Johnathan Underdah, Brandon Gibbs, and Serenity Underdah; six great-grandchildren; bonus daughters, Rebecca Thornton, Sherry Morse, Petra Stovall, Phyllis Perry, and Carrie Soule; brother, Claire (Patty) Gibbs; sister, Ruth Mawhiney; his two baby dogs, Mango and Gizmo, and his two grumpy cats, Mittens and Cosmo; several nieces and nephews; and many, many friends.
Visitation will be held from 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm Thursday, May 4, 2023, at Langeland Family Funeral Homes Burial & Cremation Services, 411 E. Centre Ave, Portage MI 49002, where funeral services will be held 11 am Friday, May 5, 2023. Graveside services will follow in Mt. Ever-Rest Memorial Park, South. To view Richard’s personalized web page, please visit https://www.langelands.com