Betty King Culbreath-Gibbons, who was married to two of Tampa’s most influential men, lived a life of public service.
She died Friday at the age of 92.
Culbreath-Gibbons was born outside of Ardmore, Oklahoma on Dec. 7, 1921, and moved to Tampa at an early age, according to her obituary. She attended Wilson Junior High School, Plant High School, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and graduated from Florida State College for Women, where she was a member of Kappa Delta sorority, the Tarpon Club, and the Village Vamps.
At the age of 22, Culbreath Gibbons married H.L. Culbreath upon his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Culbreath would serve 10 years, including as a staff member to President Dwight Eisenhower at the White House and as officer in charge of Camp David, according to a Congressional eulogy by then-U.S. Rep. James Davis.
In 1957, the Culbreaths returned to Tampa, where H.L. Culbreath began working for TECO Energy. Over the course of his career, he would become chairman of the board and chief executive officer and earned a reputation for philanthropy. Culbreath died in 2003.
In 2004, Culbreath-Gibbons married former U.S. Rep. Sam Gibbons, a childhood friend and widower. Long before serving in Congress, Gibbons parachuted behind enemy lines into Normandy with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, helping lead the initial forces of the D-Day invasion. His wartime experience was the basis for the best seller “The Greatest Generation” by Tom Brokaw.
The couple enjoyed their companionship and their travels, according to her obituary. They resided at Canterbury Towers in Tampa. Sam Gibbons died in October 2012.
Culbreath-Gibbons was a member of St. Andrews Episcopal Church and the St. Monica’s Guild. She was a past president of the Kappa Delta Alumni Association and the founding president of the H.B. Plant Museum Society. She was active in community organizations including The Chislers and The Berkeley Blazers. She was a member of the Tampa Yacht & Country Club, an avid sailor and world traveler.
“Betty had a great sense of adventure and a zest for life,” according to her obituary. “She will be deeply missed by her family and friends.”
A memorial service and celebration of Culbreath-Gibbons life will take place 11:30 a.m. Friday at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 509 N. Marion St., Tampa. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Hopewell Church Cemetery Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 320384, Tampa, FL 33679 or a charity of your choice.