By CAMERON KILFOY
Special to the Appalachian
Don Gibbon aka Dynamite Don is well known in Stephenville and the surrounding area. For years, Gibbons lent his voice in many ways to help shape and contribute to the community. Skills he’s honed thanks to various jobs and career paths has helped Gibbon get to where he always wanted to be.
“I was 15 when I started working,” said Gibbon. “Coming from a family of 13 we all had a part to play in helping out Mom and Dad. It was what you had to do back then.”
Gibbon, originally from Saint John, New Brunswick, got his start working for Universal Studios in his hometown, where he worked shipping films around Atlantic Canada.
“We used to have about eight copies of the movies and I was the one who sent them off in the big cans,” recalled Gibbon. “When they came back I used to have to go over them all. If there was an issue like a broken clip, you would have to splice that, fix it up, and then make sure everything looked good. Then the whole process would repeat.”
All the money he made from the studios Gibbon used to help support his family. He didn’t really consider this a career, but more as work to help make ends meet. One day he got a call from his brother who lived in Stephenville.
“My brother, Gordon, called me and said you should come and have a vacation down here,” said Gibbon. “And at this time I genuinely believed Newfoundland was on the other side of the world. I did want to visit my brother, so I packed my bags and took off.”
Gibbon fell in love with the province and the town of Stephenville. Because of his enthusiasm, his brother offered him a job at the construction company he worked for. Gibbon agreed to take the job but had to return home to tie up loose ends with Universal Studios.
“I couldn’t just walk away. I had to go and give notice. The company was good to me and I didn’t want to leave them in the dust,” said Gibbon. “After it was all said and done I returned to Stephenville and we started doing work on the base.”
Gibbon worked numerous jobs with his brother and eventually moved on to becoming a service cleaner for businesses. He went to Goose Bay for a cleaning gig that was only supposed to be for six weeks. He was there for six months.
Upon arriving back in Stephenville, Gibbon decided it was time for him to do something more than just making ends meet. He wanted to establish a career for himself.
“I got a job at the Western Star in Stephenville,” said Gibbon. “I handled the distribution, and paper routes and wrote on sports for their weekly issues.”
It was through his work for the Western Star that he was offered a position he couldn’t refuse.
“In the ’70s CFSX came to the area,” said Gibbon. “They were trying to find someone who knew the community. That’s when they called me and asked if I wanted to come work for them.”
After a business lunch, Gibbon decided that this was the opportunity he had been waiting for. He agreed to take the job at the radio station and he has been there ever since.
“To this day I am still at the station,” said Gibbon. “I have smaller roles now, doing voiceovers and advertisements, but those days of radio, that was something else. That was beautiful.”
Gibbon hosted a country radio show for the duration of his on-air career, doing one on Monday afternoon and one early Saturday morning. It was through his show that he got to meet and interview people he idolized.
“I got to interview people like Johnny Rogriguez and Jim Ed Brown,” shared Gibbon. “My favourite one had to be Willie Nelson. I remember my boss didn’t believe I got the interview and I said to him, ‘Do you want to hear it?’ and I played it for him. Once it was over, he came over and shook my hand and said I never thought this to be possible. That one has stuck with me over the years.”
Gibbon also saw that work needed to be done within the community of Stephenville, and he wanted to be the advocate to make that change.
“In all honesty, all the members of the council at the time were doing a remarkable job,” said Gibbon. “I appreciated that but I was a person involved in the community and noticed there were things we needed that we didn’t have and I wanted to push that.”
Gibbon won his first seat on the Stephenville Town Council in 2005 and set about to share his ideas and opinions. His ideas were subsequently heard and put into action. He says without help from his peers, things that were once mere thoughts and dreams would have never become a reality.
“It was all a team effort. Everyone came together to make things happen,” said Gibbon. “One thing we needed was a museum. Now we have that located in the basement of the Officer’s Club. By working together we were able to accomplish a whole lot. We all did it.”
The work done by Gibbon and other key members around the community is something he is immensely proud of and something he continues to take pride in. Gibbon shared that he has had his time in the limelight and now at the age of 80, he is finally ready to take a few steps back and appreciate what he has accomplished. Gibbon chose not to seek another term on Town Council. Instead he wants to spend his time focused on what he cares about most.
“I think it’s time for others to have their time now and their chance,” said Gibbon. “I just want to relax and take it easy now. My wife has been my strength through everything and I feel I owe it to her and my family to put in the time with them.”