Harry Guibor, a resident of Manteca since 1945 and a master mechanic at Spreckels Sugar spanning a career of 40 years, died Tuesday, January 21, 2014. He was 97.
Mr. Guibor graduated from Stockton High School in 1934, during the depths of the great depression when jobs were scarce. Nevertheless, while still in high school, he was hired part time by R.G. LeTourneau, the earth-moving equipment magnate. Mr. Guibor once said he was a “flunky” for LeTourneau but said his time with LeTourneau taught him more than any other job he held. That’s when he learned to weld, and it soon proved to be an invaluable asset.
In 1937, Spreckels Sugar Co. was ready to break ground for its Factory No. 3 in Woodland,CA. Welders were needed, and Mr. Guibor was available. He helped build that factory from the ground up.
When the United States entered World War II in 1941, he received orders to report to the draft center in San Francisco. He took a physical exam but was never called to duty. As the war was winding down in August 1945, Spreckels transferred him to Factory No. 2 in Manteca. He spent the rest of his career there, retiring in 1977 at age 61. He had risen to the position of assistant plant engineer and, as someone once remarked, “He could take the sugar mill apart and put it back together.” Spreckels recognized his worth and several times called him out of retirement to supervise short-term projects. Retired for good after 40-plus years as a mechanic, Mr. Guibor turned from major mechanical projects to a little-known boyhood dream – flying an airplane. That desire was kindled by the thrill of seeing Charles A. Lindbergh in 1927. Only 10 years old, Mr. Guibor joined the throngs who rushed out to Stockton Field and watched Lindbergh land “The Spirit of St. Louis,” during a barnstorming tour of the United States after his pioneering solo transatlantic flight. Mr. Guibor put off that dream for 50 years and finally began flying lessons in 1977. He eventually earned a pilot’s license and soon bought his first plane. He traded it for his second plane in the early 1980s. By then, he was living on Cooper Drive, adjacent to the west side of Highway 99, devoted to his career, he watched Manteca’s civic affairs from afar until one frightening accident along 99 sparked what was primarily his one-man crusade to convince CalTrans a safety wall was needed. Awakened before dawn by blaring air horns, he heard a tractor-trailer rig crash through his back fence and come to rest only inches from his bedroom wall. The driver apparently had fallen asleep and other truck drivers were trying to warn him by blowing their horns. Residents along the highway must be protected, Mr. Guibor said. He campaigned for months, and at last the state legislature allocated the money, aided by federal funds, and the wall was built.
Mr. Guibor was born in Stockton on Nov. 22, 1916. His father was French and his mother German. They met in San Francisco and, after the earthquake and fire in 1906, married and moved to Stockton not long afterward. He had an elder sister, Adele Isgren Trigg, who preceded him in death.
Mr. Guibor was married four times (twice to his second wife, Margie), and his wives preceded him in death. By the time he and Margie remarried, he had sold his airplanes, and they embarked on driving the highways of the western United States, retracing such historic routes as the original Pony Express Trail. One of his childhood neighbors had been a Pony Express rider.
Mr. Guibor is survived by five children, Jerry Guibor of Fresno; Janice Reid and Carolyn Guibor, both of Sacramento; Bill Guibor of Kansas City, MO; and Rodney Guibor of Manteca; six grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Friday, January 31, at Park View Cemetery’s chapel, 3661 French Camp Road, Manteca.
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
Saturday, January 25, 2014