R.I.P Buzz, You Made A Difference

RIP Buzz!

We received news yesterday that “Buzz” (Clyde R. Gibb) has passed away at the age of 98 years. Whether you had met Buzz, he was an inspiration to many for so many years – not just as the owner/savior of Thunderbird but as a unique and inspirational member of the wooden boat community and the Lake Tahoe region.

Buzz at the Tahoe Show

One of five founding members of the Tahoe Maritime Museum (Alan Furth, Dick Clark, Eric Schmidt, Steve Lapkin and Buzz)
Buzz was also the Past Commodore, Tahoe Yacht Club, and helped, unselfishly, in the growth and continuance of the Tahoe Yacht Club’s Concours d’ Elegance

Buzz saved her. Now thats a project

From Bill Watson, the Executive Director and curator of the Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society, indicates a memorial in his behalf will be held in Florida (he was residing at Jupiter Beach) and at Tahoe, separately, in the spring or summer of next year.


At this point I would like to make a personal observation here at Woody Boater.

From time to time, we report on folks that are the backbone of our passion, they represent the best in all of us, and us as a community. The folks that step above and out on limbs to save boats, volunteer selfishly and contribute. There is a very special small group within the larger group, the folks that we all owe a larger debt of gratitude to, that are sadly passing away. The guys that saved boats and the lifestyle, even when it seemed ridiculous. Those years when stuff was being burned, thrown away and ignored. THOSE are the guys that took the leap out of passion and love, not as an investment, or with any return in mind, other than the return of true inner joy.

Buzz kept it fun

AND THAT is what our sport, passion and community is about. And Buzz was one of the pillars of that small group that we owe so much too. We will miss you Buzz, but your passion, love and generosity, are baked into our community for good. THANKYOU from the bottom of our old rotten bilges.

13 replies
  1. Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P)
    Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P) says:

    What a life! So many accomplishments, to get to live at Lake Tahoe! To restore and enjoy a boat like Thunderbird, and to live to be 98. Let alone what his professional accomplishments were to be able to do all of that. Defiantly an inspiration to us all. RIP Buzz.

    • Dennis Mykols
      Dennis Mykols says:

      Mark, I was just wondering the same thing, about what was Buzz’s professional career, to afford to restore and then maintain this monster, (in size). You have gotta have DEEP pockets just to keep it running AFTER the restoration!
      Being an old-school water skier, I have always loved that shot of the skier behind Thunderbird and wondered what that wake was like to jump. lol

  2. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    I got an opportunity to see Thunderbird under repair at Gibbs’ Tahoe shop by his caretaker after delivering a launch to Tony Brown’s Western Runabouts for restoration. Tony gave me a first class tour of Lake Tahoe. I went to a quarterly meeting or annual show at Tahoe that started out in San Francisco with a cruise around San Francisco Bay in a members yacht with a stop at the Jack London Inn on the Oakland waterfront. Jack London Square is a prominent destination on the Oakland waterfront. I thought someone mentioned it was owned by Buzz Gibbs. However, I see that it is not currently so don’t know if my info is mistaken or ???. We are so fortunate to have people like Buzz who will open up their wallet to preserve and maintain the likes of Thunderbird and other historically significant craft.

  3. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    I was part of the team from the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum that took “Miss America VIII to the Lake Tahoe Show in 1989. While there we were welcomed aboard “Thunderbird” by Buzz – a gracious and unforgettable gentleman. Our hobby is forever indebted to him – and others like him with similar visions and resources.
    RIP Buzz – God Bless. 🙏🏻

  4. Johnny V./John Vyverberg
    Johnny V./John Vyverberg says:

    Thunderbird is an antique boat/wooden boat icon and may very well be the most photographed woody of all time (gee, I wonder why!). Many thanks to Buzz for preserving it! RIP.

  5. Jeff Silver
    Jeff Silver says:

    RIP Captain Buzz🙏 I am blessed to be part of Buzz Gibb Family and have always loved His passion for Wooden Yachts! His love and devotion to keeping the history of the many wood classics he has owned will be truly missed😢

  6. Tom and Maurine Turner
    Tom and Maurine Turner says:

    Buzz was always a welcome personality at Gar Woods. So generous and knowledgeable – he was always one we could count on for our family. There are too many stories to share but arriving and leaving our wedding on Thunderbird is one of our life’s highlights. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Gibb family.

    Tom and Maurine

  7. Howard Wahl
    Howard Wahl says:

    I retired to Lake Tahoe in 1991 and immediately acquired a 1959 Chris Craft 24′ Sportsman in Cincinnati and towed it home to Tahoe. My “voyage of discovery” led to a slip at the Tahoe Yacht Harbor, Tony Brown, Bill Robotham, and eventually to Buzz, when Bill and I bought the marina out of the Bankruptcy Court, and then merged with Buzz. He was our fearless leader in the long expansion and upgrading of the TYH. Twelve years of blood, sweat, and money just to get a permit from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency! The expanded and modern marina is a great tribute to Buzz for his vision and tenacity to create a first class venue for the public, the boat owners, and the Tahoe Yacht Club. I am thankful and proud to have been his partner and friend.

    My deepest sympathies to Joan, Jeff, Jordan, and the family.

    Howard Wahl.

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