October 17, 1930 - October 21, 2014
John Daniel Gebbers was born October 17th, 1930 in Omak, WA as the only child to John Gebbers and Martha Gamble Gebbers. Danny’s grandfather, Dan Gamble, was an early pioneer in the Brewster area where he helped establish the new town’s steamboat landing, the Gamble Hotel, a sawmill known as Gamble Lumber Company as well as planting the first apple orchards in the local. Danny’s mother, Martha Gamble, was also born in Brewster and was presented a hand made deerskin baby suit soon after her birth by the Chief Long Jim family. It was in this setting that young Danny Gebbers grew up on his family’s sawmill, orchards, apple warehouse, and cattle ranch during the Great Depression. As an only child he remembered many of his friends being the older sawmill workers and the cowboys who worked in the family operations. Some of his earliest memories were going south each winter with his parents to sell apples on the streets of Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix to help make ends meet during the difficult financial times of the Depression. It was also during this time period that the “Danny Boy” apple label was first established using a rendering of his baby picture while sitting on his Granddad’s lap. The Danny Boy label is still used by the family operations today and is recognized around the world for its quality. Danny grew up learning all facets of the family business. At times he worked stacking lumber with his cousin, Howard Gamble, in the family’s sawmill. Howard later became the long time mayor of Brewster and forty year administrator of the Brewster hospital. Danny spent many hours in the saddle of his horse working with his father, John, on the family cattle ranch at his beloved Paradise Hill where he learned to become an excellent cowboy and calf roper. He often competed in several local rodeos and was the Champion calf roper at the Brewster Derby Days Rodeo in 1951. Over the years, Danny learned about building roads, constructing livestock ponds, developing springs, planning timber harvests and general forest conservation from the family forester, Ray Warner. In those days wearing many hats was expected so Danny also spent time learning about the orchard business and apple packing industry from his parents. His father, John, ran the orchards and cattle while his mother, Martha, ran the warehouse and sawmill. Danny attended Brewster schools, graduating from BHS in 1948. While attending Brewster schools, he became goodfriends with his own generation of local tribal members when they played on the town’s ball teams together and they remained friends throughout all of the years. During grade school he met and became friends with his life long business partner Ed Pariseau. With a big imagination for business and a knack for seeing opportunities, Danny was no fan of school so he only briefly attended Eastern Washington State College, which he claimed was only to keep his mother happy, before embarking on a life of entrepreneurial adventure. In 1950 he married BHS graduate, Reba Riggan, and they had six children, five who grew into adulthood and four who presently live in Brewster working for the family company, Gebbers Farms. They also have twenty grandchildren of which fourteen are home from college and involved in different aspects of the family business. This was always one of Danny’s primary goals in life. He wanted to create something big enough and worthy enough to allow him to have his kids and grandkids around him because as he always said, “It was no fun growing up alone.” Danny led a life of adventure and hard work. After he left college, one of his most noted adventures was a hunting trip to the Northwest Territories that was filmed by outdoor filmpioneer, Gordon Eastman, and has been shown on The Outdoor television channel. Gordon Eastman, Ed Pariseau and Danny Gebbers had been friends since childhood when they competed against each other at the Omak Gun Club during marksmanship events. That strong friendship blossomed into many years of hunting and fishing trips around the Northwest, Canada and Alaska. Gordon’s son, Mike Eastman, has continued on with his father’s outdoor film business and recently completed a documentary in which Danny describes the history and tells the stories of their early years of outdoor filming and hunting adventures. This documentary can also be seen on the Outdoor Cannel. Never being one to turn down an opportunity, Danny and Ed decided they would pursue mining. Together, with the help of Ed’s brother Bill, a mining engineer from Utah, and an old sawmill hand named Slick, they sought out and established mining claims in the remote and mountainous area of East Creek, WA. They named their mine the Gold Hill and diligently kept up the assessment work on an annual basis for over fifty years! They frequently travelled throughout the North Cascades by backpacking or horseback as they prospected for the next potential mineral discovery. Their prospecting trips usually seemed to double as scouting trips for that next great big game hole or provided another notch on the handle in their pursuit to have covered every mile of trail and fished every possible pool the Pasayton Wilderness had to offer. Danny had a vast array of other interests including antiques and their history. He was an avid collector of items pertaining to the exploration and settlement of the American West. His trade gun collection, fur trade memorabilia and fighting weapons of the horse culture period are extensive. He was a lifelong historian and an expert on that time period having sometimes thought he was simply born in the wrong era. Danny was always unafraid to move forward, even when times were hard and others were afraid to take a chance. He continued to expand his business over the years despite the state of the economy, and the expansion of Gebbers Farms is a product of his vision. With World War II in full swing and needing additional employees for their sawmill and orchard operations, Danny’s mother was an original adaptor of the Bracero guest worker program. Several of these Mexican men became close to the family and they remained friends with both Martha and Danny for many years to come. This was an important point in the development of who Danny Gebbers was. He realized that the hard working men and women were the guts of his family’s operation and he continued to build a strong reputation for always taking good care of his employees and later created partnerships and other opportunities for the people who worked for him. Danny was also an original participant in the Japanese Agricultural Training program which brought young Japanese men and women to the US via Big Bend Community College where they studied English before spending the next two years at the host farmer’s home. This year marks the 46th year of participation in the JAT program for the Gebbers family. Over the years Danny, along with other family members, travelled to Japan to meet and stay with their former agricultural exchange students and tour their farms. Guest workers and Foreign students were a regular feature at the Danny Gebbers operations and over the years became a mainstay for the family by creating a diverse cultural experience and opportunity for all who passed through. In 1975 Danny sponsored a Vietnamese family and later when the Soviet Union opened up, Ukrainians. He took great pride in following up with as many of these people as possible and to this day has continued to have lasting friendships with them all over the world. Danny recognized that the apple industry could use a new variety, and established one of the first, if not the first, Granny Smith orchards in the United States in 1968, an orchard which is still producing today near the Brewster airport. As part of the growth plan, he converted all of his father’s Department of Natural Resource winter cattle grazing leases into permanent fruit tree plantings which formed the backbone of the orchard operations called P&G Orchards. For many years it was the largest Granny Smith planting in the world. Danny and Ed embraced early day controlled atmosphere storage, a technology for storing apples all year long. Together, after several years of research, they brought some of the first pre-sizer apple sorting technology to the area from France in 1974. To accomplish this, they worked closely with a leading French grower and packer, Pierre Herman and visited his operations in person. Danny was looking for another opportunity when he met Dr. Lapin of the Summerland, BC Tree Fruit Research Station andplanted one of the first commercial Lapin cherry orchards in Washington when he brought the late maturing Canadian variety to the forefront of July production and marketing, setting a new precedent in later cherries. The original Lapin cherry orchard is still producing today near Brewster as well as at the high elevation cherry orchards he established on the slopes of Lake Chelan. Danny always had a passion for heavy equipment and what it could do to help shape the land into something more productive. He may not have known where the keys went to start that equipment but like an artist with a blank canvas, he knew what he wanted the finished picture to look like. He had an uncanny ability to see a piece of bare land and visualize what it would look like when it was developed. He always knew the most advantageous way to plant an orchard considering location, drainage and wind patterns. He had a sense of looking into the future and making wise decisions on land purchases that wouldincrease in value, purchasing water rights before others would even think about it, purchasing forest land for grazing, looking at land in other areas, and always looking for new varieties of fruit to plant. Danny had enormous respect for the land. He did not purchase land to split up and sell. He valued the dirt as the basic foundation of everything he did. One of his favorite sayings when he recognized something of lasting value or unique beauty was, “That’s a real pisscutter.” Danny was an honest man. He and Reba raised their children with strong Christian values and taught them to carry on for God. Like his mother, Martha, he had respect for his employees and would not turn his back when they were in need. This strong character is seen in each and every one of his children and now his grandchildren. Dan and his family, like Martha before him, have done so many things for the Brewster community throughout the years. For example, he partnered with and built the Brewster IGA Grocery Store (now Brewster Marketplace) on Highway 97 in 1970 with partner Loris Gillespie, also a BHS graduate. Dan Gebbers’s legacy is that he believed it was possible to have a successful business in Brewster that could create opportunity for his kids, grandkids, and employees to grow with as well. In a few words, Danny was creative, imaginative, intelligent, and compassionate, all while adamantly remaining under the radar, refusing any recognition other than knowing a job was done right.
John Daniel Gebbers was born October 17th, 1930 in Omak, WA as the only child to John Gebbers and Martha Gamble Gebbers. Danny’s grandfather, Dan Gamble, was an early pioneer in the Brewster area where he helped establish the new town’s... View Obituary & Service Information
Obituary & Service
John Daniel Gebbers was born October 17th, 1930 in Omak, WA as...View More
Photos & Videos
Share and view memories of John...View Photos & Videos
Add family, history, photos and more...Visit The Family Tree