Gilbert Coleman Monk
Gib Monk grew up in Van Horn, a desert town of 300 people in West Texas. Although his family was desperately poor, Gib remembered his childhood as one long adventure of exploration, discovery and freedom. The desert and the mountains were his playground. He trapped coyotes, explored caves, amassed a trove of arrowheads, had an eagle and bobcat as pets, and rebuilt a model-T Ford to explore the country side. From age 12 he worked alongside his father, learning the carpenter’s trade. He graduated from high school in 1936, spent five years working in silver mines and helping on his father’s construction projects, and in 1941 enlisted in the Army Air Corps as an airplane mechanic. Fluent in Spanish, he was sent to Veracruz, Mexico to repair and maintain the Lend-Lease aircraft that patrolled the Panama Canal, protecting it from Nazi submarines. Those years in Veracruz were among the happiest and most exciting of his life. After he was discharged, Gib returned home to care for his mother and they moved to Lubbock, Texas. There in 1951 he met Palma Jean Linville, a vivacious redhead with whom he eloped to Clovis, New Mexico after a six week courtship. Following the honeymoon the newlyweds drove to Houston where Gib met his seven year old stepson, John, who was thrilled to have a father in his life. Sons Tom and Mike joined the family in 1953 and 1956. Gib was a successful builder of luxury homes in Houston, while studying construction management at the University of Houston. In 1955 the family moved to California and a year later to the Seattle area where Gib was a salesman of heavy construction supplies, including concrete forms, shoring, and specialty scaffolding, and provided on-site construction consultation. His expertise contributed to the construction of many hydroelectric dams, freeway bridges, and high-rise buildings in the Pacific Northwest. He was proudest of the Kingdome, and watched with regret when it was imploded after only 25 years. Even so, he could look at the Seattle skyline with pride. Gib was a great story and joke teller, an avid gardener, hiker, golfer, and bridge player, loved road trips and hunting for petrified wood, and after retirement enjoyed taking Telos adult education classes at Bellevue College. Gib worked on a multitude of projects for the benefit of his sons and their families, and was remarkably close to each of his grandchildren. He spent decades refining and improving the house he and Palma Jean built in Issaquah in 1968 and where they lived until late 2009 when they moved to The Gardens at Town Square in Bellevue. Above all else, Gib enjoyed spending time with the love of his life, Palma Jean. Gib passed away in his sleep on June 17, 2011, just one month shy of his 93rd birthday. He remained vigorous and active right up until he fell in late May. Gib is survived by Palma Jean, sons John (Carol) of Seattle, Thomas (Lucinda) of Bainbridge Island, and Michael (Angela) of Bellevue, and Kate, Ben, Brian, Scott, Tracy, and Foster, the grandchildren on whom he doted. All will miss his happy outlook, gentle spirit, kindness, and wisdom. The family held a private memorial service on June 28. Remembrances may be made to Group Health Foundation, P.O. Box 34015, Seattle, WA 98124-4015.