Gilbert R. Eggen obituary photo
In Memory of

Gilbert R. Eggen

January 2, 1929 - September 13, 2016


A History of Gib Eggen
On Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at ten o'clock in the morning Gilbert 'Gib' Richard Eggen passed on to be with his Lord and Savior. He was born January 2, 1929 in Norfolk, Nebraska, the tenth and final child of Amalia and George Eggen. He is preceded in death by his parents and all of his siblings: four brothers: Arnold, Ray, Eldor and Wilber, and five sisters: Irene, Marion, Helen, Mildred and Tad. They remained close throughout life by keeping a "chain letter" going, sent from one sibling to the next,...

A History of Gib Eggen
On Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at ten o'clock in the morning Gilbert 'Gib' Richard Eggen passed on to be with his Lord and Savior. He was born January 2, 1929 in Norfolk, Nebraska, the tenth and final child of Amalia and George Eggen. He is preceded in death by his parents and all of his siblings: four brothers: Arnold, Ray, Eldor and Wilber, and five sisters: Irene, Marion, Helen, Mildred and Tad. They remained close throughout life by keeping a "chain letter" going, sent from one sibling to the next, filled with news of what was happening in their lives. For a few years in their early adult lives, Several of them vacationed together at Rose Lake in Minnesota, where the many cousins grew to know one another and great memories were made.

Gib married Joan 'Jody' Ruth Underwood on June 8th, 1952 and they were what you would call 'salt of the earth' folks who had many, many friends and always worked hard and were concerned and involved in the community. Gib and was preceded in death by their son Joel Spencer Eggen in 1992. He is survived by Jody and their children: Gilbert R. Eggen, Jr, DO and wife, Lamphoon Nooklang Eggen, of Modesto, California, Barbara Joan Eggen Link and husband, Todd M. Link, PhD, of Houston, TX, Jon Todd Eggen, DO and wife, Julie Yoder Eggen, of Portland, OR. He. He has seven grandchildren: Aynsley Grace Eggen, Garrett Spencer Eggen, Noel Aubyn Eggen Link, Alyssa Joan Eggen, Amalia Rose Eggen, Schuyler Spencer Eggen Link and Chalalai Michelle Eggen.
Gib was gifted in many aspects of life. He was what you would call an 'over achiever' as a scholar, an athlete, a singer and a civic leader. In high school it was written about his football prowess on Sept 25, 1946 in The Hilltopper (Norfolk, NE school newspaper): "Gib is the capable workhorse of the backfield on the local eleven, on both defense and offense. Along with doing much "lugging" and most of the passing he is being touted by many veteran side-line authorities as one of the best punters in Norfolk history. The way he sneaked several quick-kicks out last week was a treat to behold. This fits well with several local, state and national honors in other fields awarded Gib in recent months."

In 1945/1946 he was Governor of the Cornhusker Boys' State and one of Nebraska's two representatives at the first National Forum held in Washington D.C. where "high government officials will instruct, and historic institutions will be visited." A description of the two week forum comes from the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum: "At 9:45am on Friday, August 9th, The President received the Members of the Boys National Forum in the South Grounds.(all names of the boys were listed here, including 'Gilbert R. Eggen') This organization is sponsored by the American Legion, and grew out of Boys State, which they organized eleven years prior. For two weeks each year they would bring to State Capital boys from all over the states, and would put them through political science and government course with the Department of the State and the State Legislature. The boys would administer the State Government, elect their Governor, etc. This year each State has selected two outstanding boys and the Legion brought them to Washington, where they have spent time with the Military leaders, the Legislative leaders and the Supreme Court. They have held their own political convention, being addressed by people from both Democratic and Republican National Committees. Spent time in Senate Caucus Room, electing their officers, etc. They were given lecture at Supreme Court by Justice Burton and they organized a moot Supreme Court, etc."

In April of 1947, he "won the state championship in The Department of Nebraska's tenth annual American Legion Oratorical Contest held in the Omaha Post 1 Legion home. He will represent The Department of Nebraska in the National Regional contest held April 8, 1947 at Kansas City, Missouri where he will compete against others from the district, which includes Kansas, Iowa and Missouri." He won a $100 war bond medal given as first prize. He also presided as President of the Kansas-Nebraska Region of the National Student Association, over the Regional Convention. Among other things, the meeting was held to "begin work on Regional Projects, such as the exchange of art work among regional schools, music talent for convocation programs, and drama groups to help Doane (and other college students) become better acquainted with other student work in the region. The possibility of bettering intramural athletic programs in the region was discussed, along with having an Intramural Champions Basketball Tournament. Non-member schools as well as member schools will cooperate in this program, and the hope is that these projects will be the beginning of an active region."

At Doane College he was initiated into Phi Eta Sigma, the high scholastic honor society for freshman men and was on the "new Dean's List" as a Junior. He graduated magna cum laude from Doane in 1951. While there, he loved singing in the choir and continued to do so in one choir or another (Des Moines Choral Society, church choirs, Fairway Village Choir, etc.) way into his 80s. He was an outstanding athlete - inducted into the Doane University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004 for his many accomplishments in football, track and basketball, lettering in all. He specialized in the 440 yard dash and mile relay (Dick Konicek, Bob Provorse, Lowell Dodd, Gib Eggen) which set a record of 3:24.3 that held for many years and was dubbed the" Flying Tigers" by Coach Jim Dutcher. They won the conference championship in 1950 and 1951, placed among the top teams at the Drake Relays and was 3rd at the Midwest Collegiate Conference in Milwaukee in 1951 behind Notre Dame and Marquette. That year Dutcher received the Omaha World-Herald's first annual State College Coach of the Year award - acclaimed the outstanding coach of 1951 after 10 years of outstanding service as Doane's football and track coach, and director of athletics. Doane won football and track conference championship during Eggen's junior and senior seasons. And they won the infamous Bean Bowl vs. Colorado State College - at Greeley in 1951. He loved his college, supporting it in every way he could through the years and was an Emeriti Trustee, serving Doane from 1962 - 1980.

He also encouraged his children to be active. He coached them all in baseball and softball teams in the West Des Moines Little League that was in Holiday Park off of Railroad Avenue in WDM. They spent their summers there where sons Gib, Todd and Joel all became pitchers. Todd also became a great catcher. At Holiday Pool, all of the kids were on swimming teams. Todd won the regionals in the 50yd backstroke, and the swimming medals he earned in junior high took up way too much room at home. He decided to continue his athletic prowess in high school as a basketball player. Gib Jr. became an amazing swimmer whose high school records lasted for years - and there wasn't even a pool at Valley High School back then. He and Barb also played in Regional water polo tournaments and did quite well. Gib went on to the NCAA championships 3 years in a row at University of New Mexico. He continued on to be a Psychiatrist, Shaman and nutritionist in Modesto, CA. This love of coaching continued as he helped his son, Todd, coach his son, Garrett's, basketball teams in middle school. He simply loved to attend either his childrens' or his grandchildrens' athletic events. Taking after their grandfather, every single grandchild has excelled at some sport; be it basketball, tennis, volleyball, track, fencing, swimming or dance.

While still in college, he began his temporary work at AT&T in 1947 by literally working "from the ground, up," as a ground man in the Plant Department in Norfolk, NE all the way up to Vice President of Northwestern Bell in Des Moines, IA. Upon his graduation in 1951, he accepted a position as "Outside Representative with the Bell System and held various Commercial positions. He was Business Office Manager at Omaha, General Office Employee Relations Supervisor at Omaha in 1956, revenue requirements assistant, commercial methods and results supervisor and suburban district manager in St. Paul in 1958/9. Then in the Marketing Department of AT&T at New York and General Commercial Manager in North Dakota for the Northwestern Bell Telephone Company before moving to his position of General Marketing Manager at Des Moines in 1962. In this position, he directed the marketing operations of his company and headed a 150-man professional sales organization. He became Assistant Vice President of Personnel later on.

He still found the time to be active in civic affairs, which included the Boy Scouts, The United Campaign National Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, coach for Little League and Superintendent of the Sunday School of Mount Olive Lutheran Church. In 1964 he was selected by the Junior Chamber of Commerce as an Outstanding Young Man of America. He spoke on a panel at the Grand Ballroom at the Hotel Fort Des Moines, on Imaginative Approaches to the Delivery of Medical Care to the Rural Community. His topic was "Moving Medical Data - Not the Patient." His other panelists included the President of Drake University, The President of the Iowa Medical Society, The Head of the Department of Architecture at Iowa State University, the General Director of the Boston Hospital for Women, and the Associate Dean of the University of Iowa College of Medicine, among others. His entire career at AT&T, he always worked in the community, too. He helped the Drake Department of Philosophy and Religion with their Business and Ethics course, designed primarily for business administration majors. In 1965 he spoke to the Administrative Management Society regarding "New Developments in Communications." In 1969 President Nixon appointed him co-director of the National Alliance of Businessmen in Des Moines. At the request of President Nixon, the executive board of the National Alliance of Businessmen has expanded the Alliance program from the nation's 50 largest cities to include the largest 125 metropolitan areas in the United States. Des Moines was included in this expansion. The National Alliance of Businessmen was created in President Johnson's manpower message to Congress on Jan 23, 1968. Its purpose is to find jobs for the hard-core unemployed in the private sector of the nation's economy, based on a hire-first principle, followed by on-the-job training and remedial counseling to retain hires as productive employees.

As a Vice President at Northwestern Bell he also stood with local businessmen in the Merit Employers Council, an effort at co-ordination among private firms which began in 1967 to develop employment programs for the unemployed and underprivileged. He was an adamant de-segregationist, saying, "I think the Des Moines business community has been aggressive in attempting to help solve the problem of the disadvantaged. In my opinion, it's not black society, it's white society that has created this situation. There is not only historical segregation, but this concept of institutional racism. By that, I mean if all of the people in our institutions today were completely bias-free, we would still have forces acting in society that would segregate the black man. Those forces are housing and education..." He believed youth employment was vital if unemployment was to be reduced. He supported the New Horizons junior-senior high school work-study program in the Des Moines schools as a partial solution. He believed that there were just not enough jobs at the entry level to take care of the need. He believed that the state or other government funds should be expended to help disadvantaged youth through the early-20 age group. He truly cared about his employees, and he would also even go so far as to personally transport employees, who were recovering from addiction, to and from work at AT&T if they were unable to get there for some reason.

He was devout in his Lutheran beliefs from childhood and in 1968 he was the Walther League Chairman of the Youth Committee. He was President of the Mt. Olive congregation in Des Moines for many years, and the family sponsored many children, bringing them to Sunday School themselves, when their parents were not able or were not interested in attending. He continued his community service throughout his career in Des Moines, as President of the United Way campaign in the early 1980s, and as an annual volunteer, and his never ending support of Drake basketball, especially the women's teams - raising funds annually. In 1975 the Governor of Iowa, Robert D. Ray, appointed him as a member of the Citizens Advisory Council on Alcoholism for 2 years. He believed the men of the community should help each other, help their wives, and help their families. He worked to convince his businessmen mates to work in their community to house the old and poor people, educate and care for children, and help the disadvantaged in any way they could.

After the financial problems of the 1976 Olympics, only Los Angeles bid for the right to host the 1984 Olympic Games. The bid was criticized for depending heavily on existing facilities and corporate sponsors. However, the Games that year produced a healthy profit of USD 223 million and became the model for future Games. In large part because of the volunteers and sponsors. AT&T sponsored The Olympic torch run from New York to Los Angeles in 1984 and Gib was asked to coordinate that effort, working with Peter Ueberroth, the chairman of the US Olympic Committee, organizing over 10,000 volunteers across the country. They wanted to use some of the money they were able to raise to benefit youth athletic organizations. The Telephone Pioneers of America, made up of volunteers of former and present telephone company employees, became route marshals, coordinating local activities as the torch was carried through most of the states in what was a massive undertaking. Gib had started working on it in November 1983, lining up leaders to organize, with plans changing daily. The plan was for the torch to start in Athens, taken by airliner to New York and travel through every state by two weeks before the 1984 games officially began. It did end up passing through about 1,500 cities on its way to Los Angeles. A caravan of 22 support vehicles would haul the experienced runners, supplies and equipment. 7,000 to 10,000 people were involved in coordinating the relay and another 10,000 were expected to run. He became the speech writer for Jack McAlister, Chairman of US West, traveling with him across the country. At that same time, Jody led the women Pioneers to raise the money to refurbish the Status of Liberty. Her accomplishments are great - but that is for another story. Soon to come was his retirement from AT&T - with the breakup of 'Ma Bell. Gib became a well-respected commercial real estate broker with Iowa Realty and worked closely with Bill Knapp. He was very successful, in the Million Dollar Club in the late 80s, early 90s and loved his co-workers there, and continued until the late 1990s.

In the 60s, 70's and 80's Gib and Jody were avid tennis players and loved playing singles and doubles games at the Des Moines Golf & Country Club. In 1978 he became President of the 'club' and in 1999 he was responsible for all of the signage at the U.S. Senior Golf Open held there in West Des Moines. In the 80s, they thought he might have a heart condition and was told to stop playing tennis. Since he also loved, and was very good at, golf, he continued playing in WDM and at the Fairway Village Golf Course, where, in 2000, they bought a home in Vancouver, WA, which took them nearer Todd and Barb, who both lived in Portland, OR at the time. Son Gib was also on the west coast in Modesto, CA - so it brought them closer to all of their children and grand children. They have loved their new 'home' and for the next ten years spent half of their time in WDM and half in Vancouver. This proved to be increasingly difficult, especially after the autumn of 2009, when Gib fell and broke his neck. He recovered, but the days of golf became few and far between very quickly. His Alzheimer's became an issue within the next couple of years and they finally sold their WDM home in the summer of 2014 to spend all of their time in the Portland/Vancouver area. They have outlived most of their friends in Vancouver and West Des Moines and count themselves lucky to have had such fruitful and blessed lives.

He was a tough, yet caring father of great character and accomplishments. He doted on Jody, saying "You are just wonderful!" or point at her and say "you're a beautiful woman!" to her, to the very end. I know of no people that have ever met or known him and Mom that did not like and respect both of them. They are amazing role models and he was deeply loved and will be dearly missed.

Arrangements under the direction of Vancouver Funeral Chapel, Vancouver, WA.