Obituary: Alan William Gibney / Talented engineer had a mind for numbers

Feb. 17, 1948 - Aug. 15, 2014

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It is quite likely that Alan Gibney’s neighbors in Baldwin-Whitehall did not realize they lived near the man who served as chief engineer on the propulsion system for the Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford.

“He was very proud of that effort,” said older brother Robert Gibney, “but he was very modest.”

Mr. Gibney’s work on the Gerald Ford highlighted a 35-year career with the Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory in West Mifflin, which included assignments in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Newport News, Va., where he helped with designs for the Virginia- and Seawolf-class submarines and Ford-class aircraft carriers.

About a year ago, he noticed the first symptoms of what was eventually diagnosed as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Last fall, as his health faltered, he moved to his brother’s home in Dorset, Vt., then to the Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington. During his stay, Mr. Gibney became the catalyst for a monthly ALS support group there as well as an ALS Walk scheduled for October.

Mr. Gibney, 66, died Friday at the veterans home.

“He was a tremendous engineer,” said Paul Hartnett, one of his managers at Bettis. “He made significant contributions for the Ford-class design. We will truly miss him.”

His brother described Mr. Gibney as “kind of a workaholic” who never married but enjoyed golf outings with friends and trips to visit family.

“He was very much a conscientious, attention-to-detail kind of person, and he had a good mind for numbers. His mind never failed right up to the end.”

Mr. Gibney was born and raised in the New York City area and earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., and a master’s degree in physical chemistry at Penn State. Prior to moving to Pittsburgh, he served with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Thailand, Germany and Vietnam.

In addition to his brother, Mr. Gibney is survived by a sister, Janet Pillard of Vero Beach, Fla., and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at the Four Chaplains All Faith Memorial Chapel at the Vermont Veterans Home with private interment to follow in Saratoga National Cemetery.

The family requests that memorial contributions be made to The Friends of Vermont Veterans Home through Mahar and Son Funeral Home, 628 Main St., Bennington, Vt., 05201.


Steve Twedt: stwedt@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1963.

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