Watts paid tribute to one of its own last weekend during the 45th annual Watts/Willowbrook Christmas parade. This year the community celebration featured Lee Wesley Gibson as its grand marshal in acknowledgment of the 100-year-old’s status as one of the oldest living Pullman Porters in the country. Attired in the official Pullman Porter uniform and cap, the Louisiana-born L.A. transplant, rode down the parade route in a vintage horse-drawn carriage.

Gibson, was born in 1910, and as a child lived by the tracks where he would wait for the train to go by to hear the whistle blow. He would eventually go on to a successful 38-year career as a Pullman Porter for Union Pacific Railroad.

According to one description, a Pullman Porter, before anything, was a man who made beds, or, as they said made down beds. He was also a berth attendant, the official greeter, helped passengers climb aboard as well as take luggage off and on the train. He was a chambermaid, removing the dust and grime from the cars. He polished spittoons; boxed ladies’ hats; mailed letters; wired telegrams; stoked heaters in individual train sleeping cars; lit and extinguished lights; set and took down card tables; stocked coolers with ice; served food and drinks on dining and hotel cars, as well as sold cigarettes and candy.

In 1936, Gibson moved his wife and children from Marshall, Texas to South Central Los Angeles, where he has resided for the past 74 years. Today, Gibson continues to drive, enjoys spending time with family and friends, as well as watching the Los Angeles Dodgers and attending social events.

He has three daughters–Gwendolyn Reed, Barbara Leverette and Gloria Gibson all of Los Angeles–and is a grandfather of six, great-grandfather of 18, great-great-grandfather of 12 and the great-great-great-grandfather of one baby girl.