Let the family know you care by sharing this tribute.

Bornell “Barney” Gibson, 76, of Battle Creek, died Thursday, July 30 at the VA Medical Center’s Community Living Center after a long battle with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

Barney was born August 8, 1943, in Pastmos, Arkansas, to Prentis and Vera (Smith) Gibson. At the age of 2, his family moved to Battle Creek and he would spend the vast majority of his life there.

He attended Battle Creek Central High School where he played numerous sports. He continued his education at Kellogg Community College, where he was a member of the basketball team.

After school, he joined the United States Army, where he was assigned to the Signal Corps, specializing in Morse Code. However, his athletic abilities caught the eye of the Army and he would spend his days in the military playing basketball, traveling around Europe. Impressed by his talents, he was signed to play for a professional team in Belgium. After a few seasons, he returned to the states but was offered a coaching position and returned.

As a teenager, he worked as a caddy at the Battle Creek Country Club. This experience led him to pickup golf, and he would become one of the first African American golfers in the area. He played throughout his life, winning several amateur tournaments in the area.

In addition to sports, Barney enjoyed going to the horse races, and playing cards with friends and family.

He is survived by his wife, Vicki; sons and their spouses, Aaron and Brandi Gibson, Devon and Monique Gibson, and Kevin Gibson; granddaughters, Diora and Amiyah Gibson; siblings, Prentis Gibson, Sharon Miller, Patricia Ragland, Dorothy Bazemore and Philip Barbee. He was preceded in death by his father, Prentis Gibson, mother, Vera Caldwell, and brothers Parcell Gibson and Larry Patrick.

The family is setting up a fund in his name for the purpose of supporting opportunities for youth to participate in sports, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s research, and to support the VA Medical Center. For information, please contact Devon Gibson at


To send a message of sympathy to the family, sign Bornell’s online guest book, or to share a favorite memory, please visit:


Cremation arrangements are entrusted to Michigan Cremation & Funeral Care, Grand Rapids, 616-452-3006, honored providers of Veterans Funeral Care.


Let the family know you care by sharing this tribute.

16 Condolences

  1. Sharon K. Miller on September 9, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    Our Prayers are with you.

    The Prayers of St. Mark CME are with you.
    “Weeping May Endure For A Night, But Joy Comes In The Morning”

    Rev Dr. and Mrs. William Bell, Jr

Leave a Condolence