EDMOND — Morris “Hoot” Gibson, founder of McCall's menswear store in Edmond, has had a pretty impressive run in these past 60 years.
In 1953, Gibson had faith that Edmond, at the time a community of 6,000 residents, would one day be a thriving economic force. Six decades and some 77,000 more people later, he knows he was right.
He also has been a driving force in the promotion of commerce and business in downtown Edmond.
In 1962, he played a major role in founding the Downtown Edmond Business Association.
He and a few other business owners felt there was a need for an organized group to ensure the downtown was preserved and would continue to prosper.
Today, the Downtown Edmond Business Association helps to sponsor events that bring in thousands of visitors and shoppers.
“Downtown has withstood pretty much everything,” he said. “It's amazing. Everyone's worked real hard.”
Not many people have outworked Gibson, who still goes to the store several times a week at age 90. In the early years, a 12-hour day wasn't uncommon.
Gibson was like many of his generation who served during World War II and then worked hard afterward in forging a better life for his family and community.
He originally worked at the McCall's store in Norman. Wanting to open his own store, he got financial help from Lewis McCall that led to the March 1953 opening of McCall's menswear store in Edmond.
Twenty years later he became the sole owner. Now his son, Steve, is the owner and handles day-to-day operations.
Also involved in the opening of the Edmond store was a young man by the name of James Bumgarner.
He helped renovate the building where the store is today at 21 S Broadway.
For about a week's work, Bumgarner was paid $46. He bought a bus ticket and headed to California.
“He said he was going to get into modeling,” Gibson recalled.
Bumgarner did become a model and then a successful actor. From time to time Gibson still hears from the man now known to millions as James Garner.
In the 1950s through 1970s, there was a lot of competition as American businessmen had more of a formal appearance at work. McCall's was never battling with the larger chain stores, Gibson said. His mission was always to offer top quality clothing and service.
He was active in the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce and city boards such as the Parks and Recreation Commission. Kickingbird Golf Course opened in 1972, and that alone brought in thousands of visitors annually to Edmond.
Another one of his creations was the summer “Krazy Daze” sales promotion. Then, as now, one weekend merchants would dress up, often in zany costumes, and offer deep discounts. Over the years, thousands have been drawn to the sale. Gibson got in on the festive atmosphere, once dressing up as a woman.
Cynthia Hendershot of Citizens Bank, across the street, probably echoes the thoughts of many business people downtown.
“I have known Hoot for over 20 years, not only as a mentor who has taught me so much through his wisdom and honesty as a board member of Citizens Bank of Edmond, but also through his tremendous dedication to the success of the downtown Edmond community,” Hendershot said.
“The impact Hoot has made on the employees of the bank by his personal interest in assuring that each of us push ourselves to learn and to succeed is absolutely priceless.”
Gibson has provided employment to an estimated 300 to 400 college students.
“Yes, I have all the records back in the office,” he said. “I really believe working with them helped to keep me young.”
There is another reason Gibson invested so heavily in Edmond.
He wanted a great city to raise his children: Steve, Cheryl and Janet.
Daughter Janet Hoppe worked at the McCall's children's store for nearly 30 years.
That store, as well as a woman's clothing store, closed in 2009.
“How proud can a daughter be to have ‘Hoot' as her dad,” Hoppe said. “His accomplishments and hard work for this community continue to make Edmond a truly great place to live. My dad is a true gentleman.”
Gibson said he got his nickname from his college fraternity brothers. Hoot Gibson was a cowboy movie star of the silent era.
“I've had it ever since and can't shake it.”
Downtown has withstood pretty much everything. It's amazing. Everyone's worked real hard.”
Morris “Hoot” Gibson,