David Joseph Patrick “Bud” Gibbons died last Thursday at the age of 75. He was born in Connecticut to immigrant parents who became care-takers on the Sachs Estate (of Goldman- Sachs). A few early highlights include a brief but profound education in Seminary School, and working for Gloria Vanderbilt.
Bud joined the US Army Intelligence in San Francisco, and served in the Vietnam War from 1967-68. Upon returning home, he married and settled in Denver, Colorado, where he and his wife had three daughters.
Bud was a neighbourhood and community organiser in Denver, founding the Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation as well as running for the Colorado State Senate. He was an entrepreneur, building a landscaping business and a snow-removal business. He raised his three daughters in partnership with his ex-wife.
In 1994, Bud embarked on a trip to Vietnam to find his purpose and do something good where he had seen so much horror.
He stopped in Cambodia, and thanks to Bobby Muller, joined the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, an NGO working with landmine amputees and people with polio.
Bud took over the project in Stung Treng, and from there into Preah Vihear. VVAF was structured to provide training to disabled people, and Bud began a silk weaving project.
That project grew to include schooling and permanent housing for the disabled men and women in the project. When VVAF closed its doors, the men and women who had purchased their own plot of land remained on their land.
The Preah Vihear project was turned into a Cambodian NGO with support from Carol Cassidy, who continues to operate the silk weaving production there with Sar Toch, who also worked closely with Bud Gibbons.
When VVAF ended, Bud moved to Kompong Tong with his wife, Nevin. They started a private silk weaving business, Santuk Silk Farm, employing young women from the village.
They offered lunch and a tour of the farm and production. When Lonely Planet added Santuk Farm to their guide, the business began to attract tourists on their way to Angkor Wat, and eager for a close-up of silk weaving in the countryside.
Road Scholars, a not-for-profit leisure company specialising in educational tourism, promoted the business, bringing to Santuk Farm many visitors from around the world, and Bud deeply enjoyed talking with them.
Bud is survied by his wife and partner, Nevin, three daughters, two grandchildren and two brothers. Though they are grieving and filled with sadness, his family appreciates so deeply the outpouring of love, respect, and friendship from the Cambodian and international community.
Bud’s life was a lesson in resilience, tenacity, purpose and goals. He lived his life honouring his favourite mantra: follow your bliss. We think he followed his heart, his gut and definitely his bliss. He will be greatly missed.
Alan Gibbons, Amanda Gibbons and Ashley Gibbons' are David Gibbons daughters.