STORIES OF OUR FAMILIES
To forget one's ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root.
Patrick Vernon Acland Gibbon
Sybil Elsie Sheppard
Patrick and Sybil were married on 19 June, 1943
at St. Ann's Church of Scotland, Trinidad
Patrick Gibbon was born on 27th October, 1915 in San Fernando, Trinidad. He was the middle child, one of three sons born to Linton Gibbon and his wife Ellen Mary Date, known to the family as Nellie. His older brother was Roddy and Dennis was their younger brother. The boys grew up in Five Rivers, Arouca, where their father was a farmer. They all went to school at Queen's Royal College in Port of Spain, and would commute back and forth each day in a horse-drawn cart.
An Ellis Island Passenger List shows that his father Linton traveled to New York from Trinidad, arriving there on 20 April 1919. It states that he was a thirty-year old planter, of Irish stock.
In later years Linton, Patrick and Roddy purchased the Springvale Estate. There Linton grew cocoa and had a small cocoa factory. He also grew pineapples and made pineapple jam.
Sybil Elsie Sheppard was born a century ago, on 12 September 1921 to be exact. She was the ninth of thirteen children born to Charlie and Elsie (Gomez) Sheppard. Her 100th Birthday was celebrated with a special service at St. Ann's Church of Scotland, Trinidad, attended by close family members and live-streamed to family around the world. Seventy-eight years earlier, the beautiful Sybil became the wife of her sweetheart, Patrick Gibbon, at a ceremony conducted by the late Rev. Adamson at this same sacred venue where she had also worshiped and participated in social events all her life.
Patrick first caught sight of the lovely nineteen-year old Sybil at a Carnival fête in 1940. She recalled many decades later while chatting on the beach in Barbados that this handsome young man came over to her and the first thing he said was “Beautiful eyes!” She remembered the excitement she felt when he invited her to go with him to Manzanilla, where all of his family would be spending the weekend. Giggling, she recalled that she fell for him right away, and confided in her big sister Madge that she had met this fellow and about his invitation, and did she think that Mama would allow her to go. In those days, you had to get permission and approval! It so happened that Sybil’s brother Bertie worked at Huggins & Co. Ltd., the same place as Patrick had been working since he was a young boy - so with big brother’s nod that he was a good fellow, permission was granted and off Sybil went. It was to be the adventure of a lifetime for her, as from there on, the couple dated steadily for three years before they tied the knot. A newspaper article appeared in the Trinidad Guardian of June 19, 1993 on the occasion of their Golden Wedding Anniversary. It describes the wedding in lovely detail.
The newlyweds spent their honeymoon in Barbados - one week at The Crane Hotel, and another at Cacrabank Hotel in Worthing. They returned to Trinidad and started off married life in Arouca, where their first child was born. Soon after that they found just the place where they wanted to make their home, and purchased a house on a large plot of land surrounded by nature. It was there at their St. Augustine home that they lived their entire married life and raised their family of four children - former Trinidad & Tobago cycling champion Roger, Jennifer MacLean who lives in Australia, David who died by accident in 1963 when he was 15 and Don, a civil engineer. Dave's death was an unspeakable tragedy for the family, a sorrow that Sybil and Patrick bore bravely, supported by their deep faith and love for each other.
Together they tended their home and cultivated the beautiful gardens and orchard that all of their relatives and friends remember so fondly. Their St. Augustine home was a welcoming one and for us as children, visits to the Gibbons meant roaming the grounds, climbing the orange trees and eating freely whatever fruit was in season. I remember Uncle Patrick as kind and funny, a most down-to-earth and unpretentious man. His qualities and character, as well as the loyalty and love Patrick and Sybil shared, were eloquently described by his eldest son in the eulogy which follows.
The short video clips here capture moments of the couple's family life and hospitality. We recall with love and appreciation this genuine salt-of the earth man who was a part of our Sheppard clan for over half a century. The video at the foot of this page is a time capsule of an era that has passed, one that shows Patrick Gibbon in his element. Patrick passed away on 8 September 2000. His beautiful June Bride continues to sparkle at age 100 and still attributes her youthful appearance and longevity to her "good husband."
"What is your secret?" - September 2017, age 96
Family gatherings at the Gibbons
Sending congratulations to Sybil's sister Audrey and her husband Don in California
for their 50th Anniversary
Eulogy delivered by Patrick's eldest son, Roger Patrick Gibbon
on 11 September, 2000
Eighty five years ago a baby boy was born to very humble parents. Linton (a farmer) and Nellie raised their three sons in a healthy environment. They also moulded them to go forward with the highest of moral standards.
Patrick or Pat, or PVA (but to us Daddy and Grandpa) was truly an exceptional person. He was our friend. He was everyone’s friend.
He lived a simple life and taught by example. His boyhood was eventful and he did all the things that country boys did in those days - including mischief. He had a great calling to the outdoors and from very young he developed an addiction to the forest and to his main hobby of hunting. But he was more than just a hunter. He was a husband, a father, a grandfather and a great grandfather.
He was a storyteller who told few lies. (Of course, we all know that hunters don’t lie!) He was everything else that a good man can be. His love and caring for his family was exemplary.
Two main days on his calendar were Christmas day and the 1st of November (the opening of the duck hunting season). He loved Christmas with family and all the traditions. We will forever value the many vacations that we enjoyed as a family unit in Mayaro.
Daddy was a very careful person who planned his life in great detail. He took no risk for fear of losing the little that he had. He was loyal to the highest. He worked with the same company for almost fifty years.
At age 15 when he received his first salary, he went to Sir George Huggins to say that something was wrong as he had worked for only half a month but got $10.00 and felt it should have been $5.00. Sir George told him "Son, for your honesty you could keep it". This honesty he carried for the rest of his life
The Gibbon family home in Circular Road, St. Augustine
He lived in his little home of great warmth for 55 years, and he cared for his superb wife for all of 57 years. He was such a devoted husband, a loving father, a caring grandfather and a proud great grandfather. He was a sincere friend to all - you could count on daddy in times of need - regardless of the circumstances. His life was filled with happiness, love and kindness, but he also had his tragic times.
As rugged as he may have looked, inside he was such a soft and sentimental person. During his final days, he was so concerned about what would happen to his "mummy" when he was gone - and even though we tried to convince him that mummy will be cared for just as she cared for us all, it remained foremost in his mind.
We think though that he became comforted by the extent of kindness that was showered upon him by his family, Mummy's family and some of his sincere friends, and he knew that this same support will be given freely on to his beloved wife, who devoted her life fully to caring for him in his final years.
He was so fortunate to have had mummy with him full time. Such is the love of this great man that the last uttering from his weak and dying lips was "I love you".
Daddy, we are so saddened by your passing on, but we shouldn't be - for we know and believe that you are reunited with your parents, your brothers and your son, and that you will be there to greet us all some day.
May God be with you.
It was not hard to love this beautiful man - so many wonderful memories will remain with us forever. He showed us so many examples of what it was to be honourable, trustworthy, just and fair. He was humorous and could be serious, he was generous yet careful, and he had such a great capacity to love. Most important, he was a man of great faith and he loved the Lord.
~ The loving sentiments of Patrick's only daughter, Jennifer Gibbon MacLean,
also expressed at his Service of Thanksgiving.
Story compiled by Valerie on 11 November, 2021, with thanks to
Auntie Sybil for sharing her memories and memorabilia
My cousin Jennifer for contributing photos and information
My husband Meindert for videos