Honor⁠i⁠ng George G⁠i⁠bbs

By: The James Madison Institute / 2021

“We are very appreciative of George Gibbs, and his lovely wife Ann, for their commitment to JMI over the last two decades. There is no doubt that Mr. Gibb’s memory will live on through his generous Legacy gift. We would also like to thank the entire Gibbs family for their support to JMI.”

Dr. Bob McClure, JMI President & CEO

Descending from a long line of Jacksonville natives and shipbuilders, Mr. George Gibbs was immersed in the industry from an early age, working for his father’s and grandfather’s shipyard and shipbuilding companies.

Both companies, Atlantic Marine and Atlantic Dry Dock, provided critical industrial infrastructure to downtown Jacksonville, Mayport and Fort George Island.

At the age of 27, Mr. George Gibbs followed his dream of forming his own shipyard, Atlantic Marine.

During its early years, Atlantic Marine mainly built steel-hulled fishing boats. As the company grew, Atlantic Marine expanded its capability and expertise to include aluminum patrol and steel research vessels, tugboats, ferries and supply boats.

Notably, the company was one of the first shipyards in the country to build casino boats. The company also built two shuttle-booster retrieval ships for NASA — the Liberty Star and the Freedom Star.

In 1966, George expanded the business to include Atlantic Dry Dock, as he sought to provide the best in ship repair and conversion. Atlantic Dry Dock performed hundreds of overhauls on U.S. Navy vessels ranging from small minesweepers to mighty aircraft carriers, including the USS Forrestal and USS Saratoga. George’s work culminated in the largest reconstruction job ever performed outside a Navy shipyard on the USS Kennedy.

Following the successful conversion of the Miami yacht, The Floridian, the mega-yacht world discovered Atlantic Dry Dock, which led to many other successful overhauls.

With his sharp business acumen, George continued to expand his shipyard business in 1990 by acquiring a shipyard facility in Mobile, AL. Under George’s leadership, the new construction shipyard greatly expanded their services by adding a 853-foot dry dock capable of lifting 40,000 tons. This addition enabled the company to work on some of the largest ships in the world such as Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas and Carnival’s Imagination.

Under his quiet and strategic leadership, his companies became highly successful, all while becoming globally recognized for their careful consideration of each customer’s time schedule and budget considerations.

In total, Atlantic Marine built 350+ new construction vessels for businesses all over the world. During Atlantic Marine’s peak, the two locations had over 3,000 employees.

In addition to his own business enterprises, he was deeply involved in Jacksonville’s business and civic community. In 1982, he served as the Vice-President of Business and Industry for the Chamber of Commerce, and later served on the boards of Jacksonville Federal Reserve, The James Madison Institute and the Episcopal School of Jacksonville.

Mr. Gibbs never took for granted the business environment that allowed him to create his own success through his entrepreneurial endeavors and firmly believed in maintaining these opportunities for generations to come.

Serving on The James Madison Institute Board of Directors for 18 years, Mr. supported several organizations that upheld his belief that the free-market system must be preserved and that the government that “governs least, governs best.”

In addition to spending his workdays around boats, George’s favorite past-time activities always involved being close to the water. He was an avid sailor his entire life and owned many sailboats and trawler boats. While he explored many areas via sailboat, he was always drawn to cruising the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands.

Before recently passing in October 2020, Mr. Gibbs committed a Legacy Society gift to The James Madison Institute.

By making a planned gift, Mr. Gibbs joined the distinguished few that have made the decision to join JMI’s Legacy Society.

Mr. Gibbs’ planned gift has helped to provide the necessary resources for JMI to continue to research and educate policymakers and the public on the issues of the day—all while ensuring his legacy is cemented by helping others across the Sunshine State.

With the help of Mr. Gibbs’ legacy gift, JMI continues to find solutions to build a better Florida.

Philanthropy plays a very important role at JMI. Mr. Gibbs’ support ensures that we can continue to pursue advancement in public policy and share the principles of economic freedom, personal responsibility and limited government.