March 31: Happy Birthday! Julian Gibson

Julian Gibson-2

Julian Gibson (1922-2015) grew up at the Children’s Home in Winston-Salem, and graduated from R. J. Reynolds High School in 1942.  Julian was elected treasurer of his senior class, and was voted “Best Looking,” “Most Popular,” and “Most Athletic” by his classmates.  Julian played football for the Children’s Home,  and played basketball and baseball for Reynolds.

After graduation, he served in World War II as the fighter pilot of a Hellcat off the USS Cabot.  After the war, he graduated from Lenoir Rhyne College.

Julian began his teaching career at Mineral Springs High School, where he taught and coached.  Following his time at Mineral Springs, he became principal at South Fork, which included grades 1-12.

In 1955, Northwest High School opened, pulling students who would normally attend Old Town School, Mineral Springs, and other schools that covered grades 1-12.  Old Town, Mineral Springs, and others became elementary schools covering grades 1-8.

Gibson became the principal of the new Northwest High School and remained there until 1963, when Northwest became a junior high school.  Gibson was the only principal of Northwest High School during its 8 years of operation.

In 1963, Gibson was appointed principal of the new North Forsyth High School which covered grades 10-12.  He remained at North Forsyth until his retirement in 1984.

In retirement, Gibson has the opportunity to spend more time on his hobbies, such as golf, gardening, bridge, cooking, and keeping up with friends and family, which certainly includes his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

He also has the opportunity to re-connect with the thousands of students who recall his smiling face and his friendly and even-handed, father-like manner, as he led these schools through four tumultuous decades.

Gibson Elementary School, located on Walker Road, is named in his honor.

Even students who only  heard of Mr. Gibson by reputation felt led to honor him with the dedication of the 2013 North Forsyth High School yearbook.

So today, Mr. Gibson, this former student joins with thousands of your former students, teachers, and family who remember your birthday and send our Happy Birthday greetings to you on your special day.  Best wishes for continued good health and much happiness!

Photo courtesy of Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection.

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10 Responses

  1. Janet Wood Ruis says:

    Thank you for a wonderful tribute to Mr. Gibson!

    There is one detail which is incomplete in this history. Three schools were consolidated to create Northwest High School. They were Old Town, Old Richmond and Rural Hall. The process which created Northwest and its strong student body, great history and wonderful memories was contentious at times. Mr. Gibson and other school and community leaders worked hard so that those of us who went to school there could have the best possible experience.

    • Janet,

      Thank you for your comment, and for naming the schools that sent students to the new Northwest High School.

      If you went to Northwest, would you like to share any memories of your time at the school?

      • Janet Wood Ruis says:

        Molly, I am, in fact, a member of the last graduating class from Northwest High School. There are too many memories to recount at the moment! As the editor of the last edition of the Tohari, our yearbook, it was my mission to capture as much of what happened as that book could hold…. but it’s possible only to capture perhaps the essence of that last year.

        FYI The name of the yearbook was created from the names of the three schools …TO (Old Town) HA (Rural Hall) RI (Old Richmond).

        Disputes and lingering bad feelings over Northwest’s two school colors representing only two of the three schools led to the selection of three school colors at North Senior High School, colors unrelated to the colors of the schools consolidating to create North.

  2. Hi, Molly,
    This is a truly nostalgic issue of the W-STT. It still amazes me that we were fortunate enough to retire to W-S! To have so many favorite places recalled is a trip back in time!

    Congratulations, Molly, on your work of gathering pictorial history of our town. It is so much fun to see life as it was here in the 50’s and 60’s, when downtown was a vibrant and exciting place for Saturday lunches at Morris Service, shopping for additions to our charm bracelets, catching a movie at The Carolina Theater, checking to see what was new in the stores!

    • Gwynne,

      I love to hear your memories, because they are mine as well. Please let me know if I can highlight a particular place or event of interest to you on this website.

      I have fond memories of shopping at Thalhimers downtown, and I plan to talk about this store in a post soon.

      And, now that the weather is getting better….I hope…I’ll be adding more “Then and Now” photos.

      • Janet Wood Ruis says:

        It was easy to take Thalhimer’s for granted! From today’s perspective, that company stood out for quality and selection ant reasonable prices….. it was a unique and wonderful store as was Davis. Such a contrast to the sameness of today’s retail stores.

      • Carrie says:

        My family still has a Thalimers box that we use at Christmas time. It’s kind of a joke to see.who will end up with the box each year.

        I think Mrs. Addison, a history teacher at Northwest middle school was one of Mr. Gibsons children. She was one of my favorite teachers.

  3. Bonitia Cleary says:

    I attended NFHS ’73-’75. He was a wonderful person, a strong leader, well respected among the students. Happy birthday Mr Gibson! Wish we had more men like you in leadership rolls.

  4. Len Montgomery says:

    That was a nice tribute to a man that touched so many people in Forsyth County. Granted, sometimes that touch was to jerk us back in line, but always with the intent of seeing us grow into productive members of the community. Thank you and Happy Birthday Mr. Gibson!!

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