Robert Gibeley of GIBLEES in Massachusetts has passed away.
by Karen Alberg Grossman

MR is saddened to report the passing of menswear retailer Robert Gibeley on March 14, 2022 at the age of 88. Bob died surrounded by his loving family, including Dolores (his high school sweetheart and wife of 69 years), 13 children and 30 grandchildren. Talk about being blessed!

Bob followed his passion for retail and, at a young age, joined his father Joseph Gibeley operating a haberdashery in downtown Salem, Massachusetts. He took over the business from his dad in 1951 and, over the decades, grew it into the North Shore’s iconic clothing store, GIBLEES Menswear. In recent years, the business has been run by Bob’s son Alan, with Bob always in the store to help. His big smile, quiet strength and magnetic presence made everyone feel welcome.

Menswear rep Garry Cook had visited Bob just days before his passing. Cook and the Gibeley family date back to the original store in Salem founded by Bob’s father. Garry (then 15) worked for Goldsmith’s News Agency across the street and he would carefully save all his earnings to shop at the store. “I’ve always loved clothes so every week, I’d run across the street and put down two or three dollars so that after a few weeks, I could pick out new trousers or a sweater. It was because of them that I was awarded Best Dressed in high school! When I ultimately became a rep, Bob would always try to support me but only if the product was right for him. He was a wonderful man, and boy could he sell!”

According to Alex Haney, who works for Alan at Giblees (and was hired to help with Giblees’ Zareh store in downtown Boston until it closed during the pandemic), “Bob was an extremely kind and well-respected man. He was from the old school of selling and built tremendous friendships and relationships during his many years in business, helping everyone from Celtics/Red Sox/Patriots and Bruins players and coaches to CEO’s and business owners. He was tough when he needed to be but will likely be remembered most for his kind smile and gentle nature.”

Peter Belci from Canali agrees. “I was fortunate to know Bob a bit and found him to be a devoted man to his business, customers, family and his vendors. He reminded me of Sid Shapiro of Syd Jerome Chicago in that way. I remember him being sincerely interested in you personally and your well-being. He was a really pleasant man to be around, he made you feel welcome and comfortable and therefore gave the store that relaxed vibe. Like Sid, he never really wanted to retire. I was visiting the store when they were about to throw a retirement party for Bob (maybe 7 or 8 years back) and I remember speaking to Alan a week or so afterwards and asked how his dad was enjoying retirement. Alan laughed and said ‘He’s standing right here in the store in front of me; he’s not going anywhere!’”

Menswear rep Jim Brooks also feels lucky for his friendship with Bob. “Bob had a special place in my heart. He was my very first wholesale appointment in 1986. He told me, “count the pants, kid!” He taught me to take inventory, and he taught me a lot of other things too. He was a gentleman and he will be missed by a lot of people, most of all by his large and wonderful family.”

Roman Gershengorn from Ballin treasures his memories of this fine gentleman and friend. “I will really miss Bob! Although I’ve always worked directly with Alan since I started doing business with Giblees 18 years ago, Bob was always at the store. He loved the business! He was a gentleman who always made me feel very welcome.”

Richard Binder of 34 Heritage says he will always remember Bob’s genuine smile. “But it was more about how he treated his suppliers with utmost respect. He was a really good guy with a big heart who will be greatly missed.”