Along with newspapers in Vallejo, Luther E. Gibson had a hand in newspapers in Antioch, Martinez, Napa, Sonora and Benicia. And in addition to his publishing career, Gibson served in the California State Senate from 1948 to 1968 as Solano County’s representative.
Gibson, a native of Felton, earned spending money by being a newspaper carrier in the Santa Cruz area. Later he tried his hand at being a printer, and being infatuated by the art, decided to make it his life’s work. He did everything expected of him as an apprentice, from sweeping the floor to setting type to hand-feeding a printing press.
During World War I he enlisted and served in the Balloon Corps of the air force in France, rising to the rank of sergeant major of his unit. Following the war he returned to work as the superintendent of the Watsonville Register printing department.
With partners, Gibson bought his first paper, the Antioch Tribune, in 1919. He later started the Mare Island Employee, a newspaper primarily for service people at the Naval Shipyard.
Gibson founded the Vallejo Herald, a morning daily, in 1922. Later that same year, he bought the Vallejo Times and merged the two papers into the Vallejo Times-Herald.
Five years later, Gibson bought the Vallejo Evening Chronicle and merged it with another afternoon paper, the Vallejo News, to form the Evening News-Chronicle. Gibson sold the Times-Herald to the Donrey Media Group in 1974. He earlier had stopped publishing the News-Chronicle.
At one time, Gibson also owned or partly owned the Martinez News-Gazette, the Napa Journal, Sonora Democrat and Daily Contra Costa Gazette. His family still owns Gibson Publications, whose newspapers include the Benicia Herald, Martinez News-Gazette and Dixon Tribune.
At one time he held interests and ownership in radio stations. He served as vice president and director of the Vaca Valley Bank in Vacaville and for many years was a member of the board of governors of the California Maritime Academy. At the conclusion of World War II, Gibson was awarded the U.S. Navy Award for Distinguished Public Service, the highest award given to civilians. He served for 30 years on the management board of the Armed Services Y.M.C.A., and he was chairman of the Armed Services Committee of the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce for more than 20 years. He also served as president of the Chamber.
Gibson was elected to the California State Senate for the first time in 1948. He was re-elected to office in 1952, 1956 and in 1960. Among his legislative accomplishments were authorization of the Benicia-Martinez Bridge and the twin Carquinez Bridge, facilitating legislation for Monticello Dam, the Benicia State Capitol historical monument, development of the Solano County Fair, and the California Medical Facility at Vacaville.
Gibson died in 1988 at age 93.