GUIZERIX: Recognition of a job well done

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Last week, I had the opportunity to travel back home to the Florida Panhandle to visit my mother and attend a banquet honoring my late father.

The Mobile Area Council of Engineers held its annual awards banquet, and engineers from various companies and disciplines were in attendance. As one of few oddballs in my family — I’m not an engineer or a teacher like everyone else — I felt out of place.

In all honesty, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to attend the event. Playing the part of “bereaved daughter” isn’t my strong suit, and I didn’t want to be put on display as the girl whose dad died. Thankfully, that’s not what happened.

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While my father kept much about his life as a civil engineer separate from his life at home, it was apparent how loved and respected he was in this community. My mother, brother and I were able to gather with coworkers from his more than 20-year career at Thompson Engineering and hear stories about their friendships and accomplishments.

I really found the joy in seeing a glimpse into another part of my father’s identity, something I covet, as I feel robbed of the time we should’ve been able to spend together.

My father was recognized during the awards ceremony as Civil Engineer of the Year, an honor I know he’d be proud of after so many years devoted to his career. In addition to the award, his company also established the Jake Gibbs Memorial Scholarship, which will benefit a junior or senior civil engineering student at the University of South Alabama, his alma mater.

Our family was honored to accept the award and is in full support of the scholarship. As one of the first members of his family to attend college — and as someone who worked his way through college on his own — this is absolutely the legacy he’d want to leave.

As an angsty teenager, I often resented the amount of time my father devoted to his job. Often, he would work late and come home well after midnight or would travel across the country for various contracts or around the world for humanitarian work. While I was proud of his work ethic, sometimes it seemed as though I didn’t get time with him when I wanted it.

Last week’s recognition of my father’s hard work made all the late hours mean something. It helped me, and my family, realize the impact he had in his field.

Above all, I am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate him one more time.