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Wed Oct 9, 2019, 08:01 PM

Carl Gipson, pioneering foe of racial inequity, dies at 95

EVERETT — Carl Gipson, the grandson of a slave who over nearly 70 years helped Everett overcome prejudice with grace and quiet determination, has died.

During that time, he became a community treasure. Hundreds of friends and acquaintances would help him celebrate landmark birthdays. Gipson turned 95 in January and made sure to renew his driver’s license. He died Tuesday.

Gipson grew up from humble beginnings in the segregated South to become a successful Snohomish County businessman, a long-time Everett City Council leader and a deacon at his church for half a century. With persistence, hard work and charm, he taught others by example to judge people on their merits instead of their skin color.

For all the many jobs he had — including Arkansas farmer, California shipbuilder, sailor, handyman, maintenance manager at an auto dealership, service station and restaurant owner, and affirmative-action officer — there was one common denominator.

“My career was people,” Gipson said in a 2014 interview. “People was my product.”

Convincing others was not always easy. In the early 1950s he moved his family onto all-white Hoyt Avenue despite efforts by neighbors to derail the deal and threats made to the banker who granted the loan. His membership application also was rejected by the Everett Elks Lodge fraternal organization.

Gipson changed preconceptions one conversation at a time. Through it all, nothing stopped him from reaching out to help others. Gipson was a Boy Scout leader, Everett High School PTA president and a member of the Rotary and the General Hospital Board, among other volunteer activities.


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