Charlie Gibson: Great Expectations

8:00 pm Profiles

By Dawn Shurmaitis

When it came time on May 1 to say his good-byes to the staff of “Good Morning America,” Charlie Gibson exited with typical warmth and frankness. “I know you all worked incredibly hard under enormous pressure the last couple of years,” he said to staff, friends and family who gathered after the show in New York City. “You commit an act of faith every morning. There’s no question you work your butts off. You deserve all the credit in the world.”

To show his appreciation, Gibson took the time after all the speeches to pose for individual pictures with each employee. Gibson – who also wrote notes to each “GMA” staffer before ending his 11-year run with the program – promised to sign and return each picture.

During the send-off, top ABC managers and co-workers offered heart-felt tributes to the 55-year-old Gibson. ABC News President David Westin mentioned Gibson’s experience in both hard news and feature reporting and said he was looking forward to his upcoming work in primetime.

After laughingly chiding Gibson for being a “cantankerous cheapskate,” Spencer Christian lauded his long-time friend for his engaging wit, depth of knowledge and friendship. “No one ever set a higher standard of excellence than Charlie Gibson,” said Christian, who also presented Gibson a signed Charles “Sparky” Schultz cartoon with a caption that read: “When they said Charlie was pitching today, we thought it was Charlie Gibson.”

“GMA” staffers also gave Gibson a touching and funny video they’d filled with personal tributes and photos of past shows and road trips pulled from their own albums.

ABC News Chairman Roone Arledge made special mention of the family feeling that exists among the employees responsible for the show. He presented Gibson, a book lover, with a collection of 17th century works by Charles Dickens published by the author’s original publisher. The set included “Great Expectations,” which Arledge said “expresses our hope for you and the future.”

Co-anchors Kevin Newman and Lisa McRee thanked Gibson for being an “amazing mentor, a really good friend and role model.” Newman, who replaced Gibson, said “He’s the kind of man I aspire to be.”

A very moved Gibson thanked the staff before heading out for some well-deserved time off. He plans to return this summer for a new assignment at ABC News. “My heart is very full of love for all of you,” he said. “I’ve worked at ABC close to 15 years. I have had a great ride, and I love every one of you.”

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