Sam Gibbons Timeline

A look back at the life of statesman Sam Gibbons.


By Andrew Huse

USF Libraries


From the USF Tampa Library, Special Collections / Florida Studies Center


1920:  On January 20, Sam Melville Gibbons is born in Tampa, Florida.


1941: The United States enters World War II, and as a reservist, Gibbons is called upon to serve his country.  He volunteers to join the 101st Airborne Division.


1944:  As part of the first wave of Allied troops in Normandy, Gibbons parachutes behind German lines.  He later takes part in the invasion of Holland, fought in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, and saw action in central Germany.  He was later released from active duty as a Major and was awarded a bronze star.


1946:  Upon returning from WWII, Gibbons marries Martha Hanley.


1951: Elected to Florida Legislature for three consecutive terms, during which he conceived and drafted the bill that brought the University of South Florida into existence.  He founded the USF Foundation and served as its first president. 


1962: Elected to Congress, where he becomes involved in early education and President Johnson’s War on Poverty.  His long struggle against the corruption of Adam Clayton Powell (D-NY) curries trust among voters all over the nation.


1969:  Elected by the Democratic Caucus to the influential Ways and Means Committee, where he gains a reputation as a reformer of the income tax and a bipartisan maverick on foreign free trade. 


1994: Ascends to chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee, but loses the chair after Republican mid-term Congressional victories in November.  Sam strongly opposes the Republican agenda.    


1996:  Retirement from Congress. 


2012:  Died in Tampa, Oct. 10.