GC VILLAGE — Five years to the month after losing a son in an automobile accident, George and Linda Gibbons buried their son Brock on Saturday, the victim of an apparent homicide in Tempe.
Brock Gibbons, left, had a passion for playing the drums.
Brock Thad Gibbons, 21, was found Jan. 15 at the bottom of the Salt River at around 5:45 p.m. A late-afternoon jogger found his body near the river’s south bank in a spot between Hardy Drive and Priest Drive.
Brock’s father, George Gibbons, said an investigation revealed that the death was a homicide, but there were no real leads in the case. An autopsy showed that Gibbons had been deceased for two days when he was found, putting his official date of death at Jan. 13.
George Gibbons said his son’s death was apparently caused when Brock was "hit in the head with one of those river rocks. It was not a fight, no knives or anything, just somebody knocked him in the head."
It’s not the first tragedy to hit the family. Brock’s older brother, Heath Gibbons, was killed Jan. 5, 1997, in a motor-vehicle accident at Wellton.
"It’s a really good family who is well-respected and well-thought of in the community here," said Don Keil, a longtime family friend. "Brock was really a happy, uplifting kind of young man."
Brock lived in the Phoenix metropolitan area with his brother, Vince. The death is confusing for the family with George Gibbons saying his son "had no enemies. Everybody liked him."
The young man had a reputation for showing no fear. His father remembers going to the lake with Brock and other family members this past summer. While some may have qualms about speeding along the water in a jet ski, that was not something that made Brock nervous.
"He had no fear, fear wasn’t in his vocabulary," George Gibbons said. "Whether it was soccer or whatever, he would fight to the bitter end."
Friends characterized Brock as having a rebellious streak in him. His father agreed, but said a lot of that was appearance.
Brock seemed to fit the mold of many young adults who become confused at that time in their lives.
"The biggest problem was that his endeavors were short-term goals," George Gibbons said. "He couldn’t hold on to anything that was long-term. He was smart but for some reason, the drugs that he got involved with didn’t help any. He was bright and everything, but was kind of like a little boy. He couldn’t fit into the adult world."
Gibbons attended school at Grand Canyon and was well-known around the community with the rest of his family. The family lived in the Canyon area for about a decade. His father formerly worked for the Tusayan Ranger District and was a Grand Canyon School Board member. His mother, Linda, stayed at home with the family’s 12 children.
Grand Canyon principal Richard Dodson said Brock recently showed interest in returning to school and his first love, music.
"For me personally, I just saw him in September and he asked me about going back to school," he said. "He was a really talented kid, a phenomenal percussionist who, it was my hope, would someday be a professional drummer."
Gibbons’ love for the drums could be seen in the professional set he owned, valued at more than $3,000. Friends said he wanted to travel to Seattle and hook up with a rock band there.
"He had the talent to go as far as he wanted," Dodson said. "It was his life for a long time."
A popular student at the local high school, Gibbons death saddened several longtime teachers and administrators, as well as other friends of the family. One common theme of those interviewed about Gibbons was that he always tried his hardest in his endeavors.
"He just did everything at a hundred percent," said Becky Crumbo, the school’s academic adviser. "He was extremely driven."
Crumbo remembers Brock for sports and music, especially his exceptional talent on the drums. "He was the best drummer I’d ever seen at that age," she said.
Gibbons played sports for Grand Canyon High School, serving as one of three captains for the 1996-97 soccer team under Ken Olsen. Two summers ago, he was at the Canyon helping Olsen coach in the youth soccer program.
In his soccer playing days, Gibbons was one of the team’s goalies and he impressed those involved with the sport.
"In the Show Low soccer tournament, six other coaches were impressed by Brock Gibbons’ attitude and how he kept trying to rally his team even when they were down five goals," Olsen said during the 1996-97 winter sports banquet while presenting him with the Most Inspirational Player Award.
Gibbons also played basketball early in his high-school career at Grand Canyon and was an athlete the Phantoms hoped to build around as he progressed in school.
"He was a very good athlete, not only in soccer but also basketball," Dodson said. "He was a good ballplayer. He had a nice shot."
Gibbons was buried Saturday in Luna, N.M. Interment was next to his brother, Heath.