Mike Gilbreath was born February 21‚ 1954 in Jacksonville County‚ North Carolina to L.C. and Doris Gilbreath. His dad was in the Marine Corps and stationed at Camp Lejeune at the time of his birth but shortly afterwards moved back home to Alabama where Mike became a lifelong resident of Double Springs.
Mike joined the Double Springs Volunteer Fire Department as a teenager and was an active and faithful member until his death.
Mike graduated from Winston County High School in 1972 and completed two years of Auto Body and Repair at Northwest Technical College. Upon graduation‚ he opened his own auto body shop business.
In 1973‚ he married Ruby Thomas‚ his high school sweetheart. They were happily married for 35 years. Mike continued to serve his community and he raised two children who give back to the community as well‚ Amanda‚ who is a Math teacher at Sparkman 9th Grade Academy and Erik‚ who works with Regional Paramedics as an EMT.
In 1980‚ he began his new business known as Mike’s Auto Parts. During this time he also served on the Double Springs City Council. In 1990‚ he was appointed Fire Chief‚ a capacity in which he served for 19 years‚ until his death. For the past 18 years Mike was employed by the Winston County Commission‚ Road Department‚ where he served as bridge inspector.
Mike also served as a first responder and was called out many times‚ all hours of the day or night‚ to help someone in need.
The community has suffered a great loss and to show honor to Mike‚ the fire station where Mike served as Chief has been named in his honor as the Mike Gilbreath Station. The Willow Run Park in Double Springs has been re-named Mike Gilbreath Memorial Park. The local Panorama Study Club is in the process of erecting a 5 ft. granite stone with his likeness and the Fireman’s Prayer etched on it to be placed at the entrance to the park.
Mike served as Deacon at Union Grove Freewill Baptist Church and taught the Young Adult Sunday School Class. He loved each of them and encouraged each one to ‘be ready.’ Those same young adults sang these words at his funeral; ‘My chains are gone‚ I’ve been set free. My God‚ my Savior has ransomed me.’ Mike is now truly free.