Lee Wesley Gibson, believed to have been the oldest living Pullman porter, died Saturday at his home, surrounded by family. He was 106 years old.
"He had just celebrated his birthday five weeks earlier and he thanked everyone," family friend Rosalind Stevenson told the Los Angeles Times.
Gibson started working as a coach attendant with Union Pacific Railroad in 1936. He was promoted to the highly coveted Pullman porter position in which he worked for 38 years. During his tenure, Gibson traveled the country, working the first-class section of the train.
"It was hard, but it was fun," Gibson told the Times in a 2010 interview.
He said the job helped him to "feed my family … take care of them."
The job also helped provide Gibson with the funds to buy his family a brand-new home in 1945 in South Los Angeles, the home in which he lived until his death, the Times reports.
Gibson married Beatrice Woods, his wife of 76 years, in 1927. The couple had four children: Lee Jr., Gwendolyn, Barbara and Gloria. Lee Jr. died in 1958 of Hodgkin’s disease. Gibson's wife, Beatrice, died in 2004, the Times reports.
The Times notes that well after Gibson turned 100, he remained physically fit and alert and took no medication. His vision was perfect and he was driving up until the age of 102, when his family demanded that he stop.
"He was a man whose outlook on life was extremely positive,” his eldest daughter, now Gwendolyn Reed, 84, said. “He didn’t believe in the word ‘can’t.’"
Gibson is survived by his three daughters, six grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, 22 great-great-grandchildren and three great-great-great-grandchildren.
Read more at the Los Angeles Times.