By Billy Keyserling
I recently attended the very moving funeral service for the late Leroy Gibbs Sr. who recently passed away. Though I knew him well by reputation, I had no personal relationship with “Mr. Leroy,” as he was known throughout his neighborhood in the Northwest Quadrant in downtown Beaufort. For years I have been friends with his son, Scott, whose beautifully sweet and gentle voice rings throughout the Lowcountry as he sings at almost every good cause I attend. Like his dad, Scott is a gentle, kind and giving person.
As I heard family and friends talk about Mr. Gibbs, I felt inspired by his life to write this:
Affectionately known by many as the “Mayor of Congress Street,” Leroy Gibbs Sr. was a Beaufort native who, among other abilities, became a master carpenter where he spent most of his career working for Kinghorn Building Supply Company.
Along with his neighbors, Mr. Gibbs started the first Neighborhood Crime Watch and served as President of the United Block Association.
His friends who have lived in the neighborhood for years have told me that there are not many homes in the Northwest Quadrant that “Mr. Leroy” did not build or repair when his neighbors were in need. He fixed the bicycles or toys of neighborhood children, and was only a call away when his wise counsel or his sharpened skills were needed.
Mr. Gibbs was a quiet and evidently self-assured gentleman who never expected anything in return for his good deeds other than the satisfaction of helping others.
Mr. Leroy Gibbs Sr. was clearly a “community rock” who will be forever missed.
In these times of “it’s all about me,” a man of Mr. Gibbs’ stature will be sorely missed and I see his passing as a gentle reminder to all of us that family and community come first, that good deeds do not need recognition and that building community is something that made this city great, and we can make it even greater.
By Billy Keyserling