State Sen. James Gibson, president of the rocket fuel plant demolished in earthquake-like blasts on May 4, died Saturday at his home following a bout with cancer. He was 63.

Gibson and his brother, Fred, were officers in the Pacific Engineering and Production Co., which makes an oxidizer for solid rocket fuel used in the space shuttle and other advanced rocket boosters.The plant was flattened by a series of devastating explosions that killed two people and injured 326 others.

Gibson, a Democrat who was completing his fifth term as senator, served in the state legislature for more than 28 years.

He served in both the Assembly and the Senate, where he had been both majority and minority leader.

"A legislative giant has been taken from us," Gov. Richard Bryan said Saturday night. "No man enjoyed greater respect from his legislative colleagues for more than a quarter of a century. He was a commanding legislative presence."

Gibson's cancer was diagnosed in November.

A 1947 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Gibson was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War.

Gibson is survived by his wife, Audrey, two sons and four daughters.