Major Betty Gibson takes charge of Bakersfield ARC


GLORIA ZAPATA, MAJOR Betty Gibson and Debbie Tucker check out the supply of Easter bunnies at The Salvation Army thrift store in Bakersfield, Calif.


It was a most unusual Christmas present!

It came in the form of a telephone call on Christmas Day, 2001. When Major Betty Gibson heard the voice of her boss, the ARC Commander Lt. Colonel Dan Starrett, on the line she was a little surprised. Then, in a matter of seconds, her heart leaped!

“He called to tell me that I was appointed as the administrator of the Bakersfield ARC. I was so very excited but also very humbled to realize the Army would entrust this responsibility to me,” Gibson says.

Since reporting to her new appointment on February 2, this stalwart soldier has come up against many demands (“The challenges are new every day”), but perhaps the biggest of all, she asserts, is getting adjusted to working – for the first time in her 43 year career – “without Major Ken Gibson nearby.” For Betty’s husband, Ken, continues in his appointment as the ARCC General Secretary. “Thank goodness for e-mail and cell phones!” quips Betty.

Although these two very capable officers officially retired in January of 2001, they have not retired – not really. Dr. Billy Graham has said that, after searching the Scriptures in depth, he has not been able to find anything there that says one must retire. It would appear Ken and Betty (as well as a number of other valiant “retired officers”) would agree with Dr. Graham.

Watching Betty at work, one is impressed with how she moves familiarly among the innumerable carts, totes, racks and trucks (“organized chaos” it is often called in the ARC). But, again, one might expect it when reminded that she and Ken (after innumerable appointments in corps, DHQ, and THQ assignments) served at the ARP in Reno and, afterwards, took charge of the Long Beach and Sacramento ARCs. Lastly on the ARC command staff (from which appointments they officially retired), frequent visits to the ARCs in the territory, too, were part of the package. But, then, in those other ARC appointments, it was Ken who was the administrator.

Now a woman as an ARC administrator? When Ken and Betty were commissioned in 1959, such an appointment would have been almost unthinkable. But times have changed, so that today the appointment – traditionally reserved for a male officer – is being filled more and more by a woman. And why not? When asked whether being a woman puts her at a disadvantage as an ARC administrator, Betty promptly responds: “No. In fact, if anything, it gives one an advantage, for there is a certain respect given a woman.”

Although admittedly humbled by being given her new appointment, Betty confesses that she is a little intimidated, nevertheless, by “the production obligations which have been quite a challenge for Bakersfield.” She adds, however, with a laugh: “I’m closely related to a super finance guy, the ARCC General Secretary, and I do rely on his advice in financial matters.”

Look out, Bakersfield. Major Betty Gibson has taken charge, and as she steps forward gallantly to seize this brand new opportunity, she stands on the winning side. Undoubtedly, she will perform well as she claims the promise of Proverbs 3:6 – “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct thy path.”

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