Aug. 9, 1921 – June 14, 2013
Dr. Raymond M. Gibbons Jr., a prominent Buffalo dentist with a passion for firefighting and collecting its memorabilia, died Friday in Harris Hill Nursing Home, Clarence, after a short illness. He was 91.
Dr. Gibbons conducted his dental practice for more than 60 years from his office and residence on Linwood Avenue in Buffalo, which became a firefighting shrine, complete with hose nozzles, fire-alarm boxes, a scanner radio that entertained waiting patients and a shiny brass fire pole descending three floors from the attic to the waiting room. He even owned two fire engines that he drove during parades all over Western New York.
“Stuff just seemed to come along,” he told The Buffalo News in 1985. “Gifts, friends who called and said, ‘I heard about this great buy.’ And then I was into it, and I thought ‘Gee, what a nice hobby.’ ”
He often told of walking with his father as a young boy past Engine 9 at East Tupper and Washington streets, spurring his lifelong interest in firefighting. It eventually led him to specialize in forensic dentistry, serving on the scientific staff of the Buffalo Police Department and the Forensic Sciences Unit of the New York State Police, as well as a stint as chief forensic odontologist for Erie County Medical Center.
Born in Buffalo, Dr. Gibbons graduated from Canisius High School, Canisius College and the University of Buffalo Dental School, and served in the Navy Dental Corps during World War II and the Korean War. He was a retired commander in the Naval Reserve.
He was a life member of the American Dental Association, the Dental Society of the State of New York and the Eighth District Dental Society. He served as president of the UB Dental School Alumni Association and International Dental Study Club, and a fellow in the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, International College of Dentists and American Academy of General Dentistry. He also served on the Erie County Board of Health.
Dr. Gibbons was a board member and chairman of the AAA of Western New York and a longtime member and director of the Buffalo Club. He was a Eucharistic minister at St. Louis Catholic Church, and every Sunday morning for decades he delivered communion to patients at Buffalo General Hospital.
For the past several years he lived in Clarence, where he also served as a Eucharistic minister at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church.
Survivors include his wife of 42 years, the former Virginia Schlee; two daughters, Kathleen Buescher and Nancy Laughlin; a son, R. Michael III; and a sister, Janet Collins.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church, 8500 Main St., Clarence.