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They called him Ernie at Western but his yearbook information gives little recognition to the generations of distinguished public service in Vermont and for the nation that he would carry on. It started with his grandfather , Ernest W. Gibson, a Congressman from Vermont(1923-1933) and a Senator from 1933 to his death in 1940. His son, Ernest W. Gibson, Jr., was appointed to complete the six months of his father’s term.
Declining to run for the seat, Ernest W. Gibson, Jr., became Chair of the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies until May 1941 when he enlisted in the U. S. Army and served for over four years, including time in the South Pacific. While there, Gibson, Jr. came upon the coconut shell that Jack Kennedy & his PT 109 torpedo boat crew had used to call for help. At the end of the war, he ran for Governor of Vermont as a progressive and internationalist Republican and won against a traditional Republican in a rare upset in that conservative state. He served two terms from 1947 to 1950 when he resigned to be a federal judge. While living in Washington, D.C. during his father’s time as a Congressman Ernest Gibson, Jr., married Dorothy Switzer, a Western graduate of 1920. The first of their four children was Ernest W. Gibson III, born in 1927.
Ernest Gibson III attended Western, graduating in 1945 and then went to Yale University (Class of 1951) and Harvard Law School (Class of 1956). Drafted in 1955, he served in Korea (45th “Thunderbird” Division) as an artillery officer on the front from 1951-53.. In 1951 Ernest had married a Vassar grad (Class of 1951), Charlotte Hungerford. In the family tradition, he served 3 years in the Vermont House of Representatives, then 9 years as Chair of the Vermont Public Service Board before being elected in 1972 to the Superior Court of Vermont and then appointed by the Governor to the State Supreme Court, where he served until retiring in 1997.
Beside the law, military, and legislative tradition, the Episcopalian Church has been a major part of his life. He served for 20 years as Chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont.