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Clearbrook mayor dies at age 61

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CLEARBROOK — Residents here are reeling from the unexpected death of the city’s mayor, Mike Gibeau, who died Monday after suffering a heart attack while shoveling snow.

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“He was a blessing to have in Clearbrook,” said Dylan Goudge, Clearbrook’s former police chief who was elected to the council in 2012. “It’s a very, very, very tough loss, for the city of Clearbrook, for his family, for his friends.”

Gibeau, 61, who the city reported was first elected as a council member in 1975 and then mayor in 2003, was involved in nearly every city initiative in recent decades, from the founding of Clearbrook Community Pool to the establishment of Kloster Park, the city’s softball complex.

“Anything that happened in Clearbrook, Mike was involved in it,” said Dan Lindom, a longtime friend, “whether it be for sports or whether it be for fixing up the town. He started the softball complex and thousands of kids have now grown up playing baseball there.”

A celebration of life is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, March 1, at Clearbrook Community Center, a fitting location. Gibeau, friends said, played in a key role in saving the old school building and converting it into the community center.

“Every time you turned around, Mike was there, kind of directing things, telling people how we’re going to do it, how it was going to happen,” Lindom said. “There was never a moment that went by when he wasn’t thinking about (something) ... someone would say, ‘Mike, maybe we should slow down a bit,’ but he’d say, ‘If you don’t do it, no one will.’”

Gibeau helped in planning annual Summerfest celebrations and worked to bring the Johnny Holms band to Clearbrook. He, and his sister Sue, even made sure Clearbrook’s downtown was decorated for Christmas every year.

“Mike loved the community and he loved the people in the community,” Goudge said. “His house was always open to pretty much everybody. Almost everyone he came in contact ended up becoming a friend.”

Gibeau worked for 40-some years at the local grocery store, and while he was not born in Clearbrook, he was raised there, having moved before he started school.

“He tried a few weeks in Thief River Falls, at the technical college, but it didn’t take long (before he came back),” Lindom said when asked if Gibeau ever moved away. “He knew that Clearbrook was where he wanted to be.”

Gibeau was not married —“Clearbrook was his life,” Lindom said —but he was constantly surrounded by people, hosting everything from Fantasy Football drafts to team gatherings before high school basketball tournaments and football games.

Those who attend his celebration of life are encouraged to wear their favorite sports attire; a luncheon with a Kloster Park theme is planned.

“You could say anything bad about Mike that you wanted to but you never said anything bad about Clearbrook, that was his rule,” Lindom said of Gibeau. “It’s a huge loss for the city.”

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