Obituary: Dr J Keith Gibson

Department of Computer Science and Information Systems

On Wednesday 23 November 2011, I attended the funeral of my former colleague, Keith, who died on 7 November. The service was my first experience of a Quaker funeral. Instead of the usual organised activities and music, everyone sat in silence. But, every now and then, whoever wished to stood up and recounted their best memories of Keith. He had organised over 400 'Friends' Rambles in his life, bringing people together.

Keith came to Birkbeck's mathematics department around 1964. His interests were primarily in algebra, but when the first desk-top computer (memory 4Kb!) arrived, he became very proficient and interested in computers, and this led to his interest in cryptography.

Later, he transferred to the computer science department, subsequently obtaining his PhD in Cryptography under Professor Fred Piper. At Birkbeck for over 40 years, Keith was known for his willingness to help students and gave his time unstintingly. Listening to the individuals speaking at the funeral, you realised that his attitude to work at the College, and his work for the Friends, had the same underlying source: to help people in their lives by true example.

He leaves behind Mrs Lynn Blackmore, Mrs Jean Gibson, Kate Gibson and daughters Cally and Rebecca, who sang 'Sure, on this shining night' beautifully, unaccompanied, like the opera singer that she hopes to be.