Remembering Gib ...
I think it was sometime in 1983 that Elmo
Torres invited Anita and me to a gathering at Gib and Madelein Bergquist’s
home. It was a chance acquaintance that led to one of the great friendships
of our lives.
the years we attended many more of those gatherings and through those events
came to meet a few of the fascinating people who found themselves drawn to
this pair. Between rounds of Trivial Pursuit and hanging around the barbecue
grill it didn’t take long to discover that Gib had a knack for telling
stories — many of which had actually happened.
He had plenty of life experience; an eye for detail and an ear for dialect,
all of which helped him sketch his tales of Florida cracker lore, FBI
adventures and vivid moments of just plain everyday life.
Gib and I used to joke about having a “family resemblance,” speculating that
we must share a Scandinavian ancestor or two. After all, were we not both
bearded? And did we not both have physiques resembling Hagar the Horrible?
We weren’t the only ones who noticed the resemblance. One day at the Anna
Maria Island Community center, when I was making photos of Little League
teams for the Islander newspaper, one of his young players studied us
carefully, looking from one to the other of us as if trying to solve a
puzzle. Finally, pointing at me, he asked, “Is that your dad?”
Of course Gib said “Yes,” and continued to refer to me as “Dad” for quite a
while afterward. I would be pleased to have been his dad, or his brother,
any of his kinfolk. As it is, I’m honored to have been his friend.
It was a shock, but not a surprise to learn that he was gone. After all,
we’re all here for just a short time. But I also know that our present
separation is only temporary and that, eventually, we’ll pick up our
friendship where we left off. Until then we’ll have to settle for
remembering the many good times we had with him, and enjoying the stories
and the good friends he left behind.
The world is a better place because he lived. Who can claim better than that
at the end of his days?
About the book