Michael “Mike” Gibler, age 72, of Athens, IL, passed away on Saturday, August 1, 2020 at his residence with his stunning wife by his side.
He was born April 10, 1948 in Wabash, Indiana, the son of William and Dorothy Gibler.
Mike married Dierdre of August of 1969, they have three children, Kristen Ritz of Philadelphia, Erin Gibler (fiancé Sean Farrell) of Naperville, and Daniel (wife Ashleigh) Gibler of Normal. He married Denise Hackman in November of 2001. Denise’s daughter, Ashley, shared a special relationship with Mike.
Mike is survived by Denise, the love of his life; all of their children; grandchildren (Haleigh, Madelyn, and Katie Appledorn); two siblings, Noree (husband Steve) of Rolling Meadows, and Dave Gibler of Roselle; and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his brothers, Bill and Tim; and his parents.
Mike attended Illinois State University and graduated with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English.
He taught junior high English for 12 years in Mt. Prospect, Illinois. During that time Mike also drove tour buses and became highly involved in organizing union labor. Mike realized that this was his true passion and began his illustrious career with Illinois Education Association that lasted over 3 decades. Mike “retired” from the IEA in 2008. Mike quickly became bored with retirement and started looking for something to do. He obtained his CDL and was an OTR truck driver for a couple of years. However, he couldn’t bear being away from his wife for such long periods of time so he gave that up when the IEA came calling for help. It seems they were desperate for the Gibster’s help and he was more than happy to lend a hand. Mike worked for the IEA on a contractual basis until his illness prevented him from doing so. Mike was a tireless advocate for all employees in the schools that he served. Mike was a fierce supporter of education and knew that a child’s success in the classroom was dependent upon having qualified an valued employees. Not only did he fight for the teachers, he also worked tirelessly for all school employees to cultivate the best possible learning environment for our children.
And when it came to children, there were none he loved more than his grandchildren. He was known as “Poppy” to them. Ever the teacher, Mike spent hours helping with schoolwork, volunteering at schools, getting them to and from practices, and being a proud Poppy at games and events. He had even begun to teach his oldest granddaughter how to drive. These lessons included how to do doughnuts!
Never on to be idle, Mike had many other interests; most of which involved sipping bourbon. He and Denise loved to go camping, especially to Michigan. Mike learned how to play the harmonica and had a large collection of them. He practiced his skills at various area establishments that sell bourbon. Mike was an avid NASCAR fan. He went to 2 races every year. Mike looked forward to the races and spent a week getting the camper ready to go. Mike almost always had a friend or family member go to the race with him but also had his “racing” family as well. The races were known for their crazy antics, BBQ’s, and bourbon consumption. At one race, Elvis (Mike in costume) made an appearance dancing on top of a bus! It was so wildly popular that Elvis continued to made some encore performances!
Mike didn’t know very many strangers. He loved to talk to others. He expected honesty and valued integrity. He appreciated differing opinions and the opportunities to debate them. And bourbon was available, it simply made those debates more entertaining!
Sadly, due to Covid, there will not be an opportunity for a public celebration of life. A private family celebration is planned. Due to this, the family asks that all of Mike’s friends and family who aren’t able to be at the private celebration to simply gather together in your family or friend groups and raise a glass in his honor.
Mott & Henning Funeral Home is assisting the family. On-line condolences can be shared at www.mottandhenning.com.