'Survival of the fittest' Gibbon's personal philosophy

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— Ken Gibbon is grateful to be alive.

"Miraculously alive," reads the Virginia newspaper clipping reporting Gibbon's 700-foot tumble down the side of a cliff.

When he was 17, living in Virginia Beach, he and six friends went to a state park for a day of fishing. At a point called Lover's Leap Wayside Lookout, Gibbon and one of his friends decided to stop and climb down the cliff.

They had made it about a fourth of the way down the cliff when Gibbon tripped and began sliding. Rescuers had to carry him a mile and a half to the ambulance.

From the sharp shale rocks, Gibbon suffered a severe concussion, lots of bruises, abrasions, lacerations and amnesia. He lost four pints of blood and was unconscious for days. He still can't remember anything about the plunge.

The newspaper reported it was his youth and stamina that kept him alive.

More than three decades later, Gibbon, 50, still holds onto that youthful vigor. He read Darwin in high school and has lived by his social theory.

"I made 'survival of the fittest' my personal philosophy and decided I would stay in shape my whole life," Gibbon said.

Gibbon is a nine-year Hayden Town Board trustee, two-year Steamboat Springs Post Office employee and a Vietnam veteran.

Gibbon spends his weekends hiking or cross county skiing, but it is during the week when he performs his strict exercise regimen.

Starting around 4 a.m., Gibbon and Jade, his 5-year-old German Sheppard, embark on a four- to eight-mile run down Morgan Bottom Road in Hayden, depending on whether it is an "easy day" or a "hard day."

He and Jade return home just as the sun's first rays peek over the eastern mountains. Then he stretches, showers and makes a big fruit, yogurt and protein shake for breakfast.

By 7:45 a.m., he is off to work. Gibbon and his next-door neighbor both work at the post office in Steamboat Springs, so they take turns carpooling.

Work begins at 8:30 a.m. At lunchtime, Gibbon makes a two-minute walk to the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center. There, he swims on "easy days" and lifts weights on the "hard days."

What about lunch?

"I usually wolf something down in 10 minutes," he said.

Then it's back to work.

At the post office, Gibbon serves as a steward, the communicator between management and labor. But he is also a "part-time flexible," meaning he basically does anything that needs to be done.

Gibbon worked construction for 25 years, and decided just a couple of years ago to change his line of work. When he got the job, he realized it was actually much different than what he was used to.

"After the first couple of weeks, I was ready to quit," Gibbon said. "I've always lived a pretty reclusive life, and all of a sudden here I was talking and taking money from tons of people every day. I had never done anything like it before in my life."

But after six months of uncertainty, Gibbon got over the change and settled into his new job.

After work, Gibbon goes home to his wife, Eva, son, Luke, and Jade. His other son, Levi, lives in Loveland. Only during this short time before an early bedtime does Gibbon take time for leisure, unless he has a Hayden Board of Trustees meeting.

He credits community leaders Lucy Rickman, Jacquie Boyd and Mona Weaver as his inspirations for getting involved.

"These three ladies are like a dynamic trio," Gibbon said. "Together, they got the Haven and the library built. They've always been an inspiration to me."

Now Gibbon is working to get things done. Whether it is personal fitness goals or making decisions on development in the town, he doesn't rest.

"There's no fluff with Ken," said fellow board member and former Hayden mayor Richard "Festus" Hagins. "He's honest and he tells it like it is. He's not shy with what he has to say.

"With his construction background, he asks developers those questions that we might not think of. So, he brings a unique slant. He is a valuable asset to the town for his opinions, and helping us get things accomplished."

Actually, Gibbon says getting things accomplished is what keeps him going.

"It's not that hard to be involved and make a difference," Gibbon said. "If you have initiative and drive, you can get almost anything accomplished."

That is a philosophy he has passed on to his son.

A few years ago, Luke was getting in trouble with the police for riding his skateboard around town. Gibbon told his son if he wanted to change things, he should go before the Town Board and make a proposal.

Luke and some classmates got busy writing proposals, and with the help of middle school teacher Rickman, they got a skate park built downtown.

"That's the way this town works," Gibbon explained. "Everyone pitches in to get things done. Through the right steps, you can accomplish a lot."

The one thing Gibbon does not work hard at is sleeping. There's just not time for it. His wife said she usually just rolls over when she hears him getting up before sunrise.

"I need way more sleep than he does," she said. "He is very disciplined, determined and focused."

-- To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204

or e-mail nfoster@steamboatpilot.com

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