Letter to the Editor: An Ode to John Gibbons on his Retirement

Submitted by Brown Pulliam

I would like to commend the article covering the recent event on the Common marking the retirement of Rev. John Gibbons after thirty-one years of his ministry to the First Parish in Bedford, UU.

You were kind enough to quote a few lines of verse that my wife, Lois Pulliam, penned, a  part of an ode to Gibbons, but those lines were not identified as just a portion.  I think this should be remedied by publication of the complete poem, so that all may judge her efforts as a whole.  I, therefore, include the full text below.

An Ode To John Gibbons On His Retirement

Let’s sing the praise of Gibbons, John,
The man we’re concentrating on.
He came when Jack and Doug departed.
(The loss of both left us down-hearted.)

But soon we knew that we were blessed:
No need for feeling sad or stressed.
John and Sue and son moved in,
Their Bedford lives had started then.

John’s sermons?  Wow,  he had the gift,
And left no listener sad or miffed.
A sense of humor, too, was there,
With taste and wisdom both to spare.

He brought in famous guests galore:
Not one of them could prove a bore!
He had the knack of mixing in,
No matter where, no matter when.

The Carleton – Willard folks are fans.
He visits jails and pipe – line bans.
He flies his fish and rides his bike
And takes us on a graveyard hike.

Everywhere, his praise is sung,
And he knows how to hold his tongue.
He advises and then marries them;
He consoles and then he buries them.

Which should count as number one?
Twinkly ball or confetti gun?
Each one of us he has befriended
– or will, before his term has ended.

He has the gift of sympathy,
And broadens it to empathy.
Let’s face it: most of us just feel
That, as our leader, he’s ideal!

~ Lois Pulliam, 2021

 Editor’s note: ‘ Jack and Doug’ refers to Jack Mendelsohn and Douglas Strong, previous First Parish ministers.  ‘Sue’ is Sue Baldauf. John’s wife and former Director of Bedford’s Youth and Family Services


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