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Haley Harrold, Luke Smith and Paul Harrold attend the celebration of life service Saturday at the Clearbrook Community Center for Mayor Mike Gibeau, who died Feb. 17 at age 61. Haley Harrold and Paul Harrold are Gibeau's great niece and nephew. (Crystal Dey / Bemidji Pioneer)
Haley Harrold, Luke Smith and Paul Harrold attend the celebration of life service Saturday at the Clearbrook Community Center for Mayor Mike Gibeau, who died Feb. 17 at age 61. Haley Harrold and Paul Harrold are Gibeau's great niece and nephew. (Crystal Dey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Clearbrook, Minn., remembers Mayor Mike Gibeau as the spirit of the community

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news Grand Forks, 58203
Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

CLEARBROOK, Minn. -- The American Dream is still alive in Smalltown USA.

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In Clearbrook, that dream is alive because of one man who was celebrated, remembered and mourned on Saturday.

Cars and pickup trucks lined the blocks surrounding the Clearbrook Community Center on a crisp March afternoon under a sunny, blue sky.

Mayor Mike Gibeau was surely familiar and happy with such a scene in days past.

But on Saturday, family, friends, classmates and colleagues turned out to honor Gibeau’s life and the livelihood he gave back to his community.

“Mike was the tie that bound Clearbrook together,” said Gibeau’s niece Carla Harrold during his service. She repeated throughout her speech -- “Be like Mike.”

Gibeau died unexpectedly of a heart attack while shoveling show on Feb. 17. He was 61.

City councilman George Postier has taken over as de facto mayor until November elections. When asked if Gibeau would want him to run for mayor, he smiled and said “probably.”

Postier said he had known Gibeau for many years. He expected at least the population of Clearbrook, around 550 people, to attend Gibeau’s celebration of life service and some people from the Red Lake area. Saturday’s crowd total easily soared past 500.

“He was community first, that was him, that was his thing,” Postier said.

Gibeau began his career in city government in 1975 when he was elected to the City Council. Always a fixture in the community, he was elected mayor in 2003. One of Gibeau’s capstone accomplishments was creating the city’s baseball and softball field, Kloster Park. Baseballs, peanuts and boxes of Cracker Jack’s adorned tables at his celebration of life service Saturday. A banner and T-shirts of Gibeau with the words “Clearbrook’s #1 Fan” tied in to the sports-themed memorial.

Toes tapped as Carrie Underwood’s “See You Again” and Luke Bryan’s “Drink a Beer” songs played during the program. Fifteen people stood to share “Giberisms” and stories of how Gibeau, a man once referred to as the Godfather of Clearbrook and an ambassador for the community, influenced their lives.

After the laughter and tear-filled recounts of Gibeau’s legacy, Danny Lindom reined in the crowd for a final send-off. The crowd stood, raised their right hands and toasted to the spirit of Mike Gibeau, the spirit of Clearbrook.

 
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Crystal Dey covers crime, courts, tribal relations and social issues for The Bemidji Pioneer in Bemidji, Minnesota. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey has worked for the Echo Press in Alexandria, Minnesota, The Forum in Fargo, North Dakota, The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida, the Hartford Courant in Hartford and West Hartford News in West Hartford, Connecticut. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.
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