January 4, 2021
1924-2021 ~ Jean Evelyn Gibbs passed away peacefully on January 4th, 2021, at Westview Place seniors care home, Penticton. She was 96.
Jean was a lovely person who always thought of others before herself. She loved travel, flowers, and going for walks, which earned her the title, Walking Gramma. She loved reading, and for many years she read the Penticton Herald cover to cover every day; no crossword puzzle could defeat her.
She loved good food, which she could remember in alarming detail years later. She had a quiet, somehow birdlike zest for life, with a remarkable ability to find even small, simple things interesting. This made her a wonderful travel companion.
She treasured the belief that people are generally good-hearted, and she took real pleasure in noting their good deeds and acts of kindness towards one another. Nervous by nature, Jean was shy, yet not retiring, unassumingly embracing life’s opportunities to step up and do things with and for others.
She believed passionately in women’s equality. Otherwise, she was adamant about few things; but one of them was that, over her, a fuss should never be made. Sorry Jean, but you were too deeply loved, and will be too sorely missed, not to receive at least a little fuss.
Jean was born in 1924 in Penticton, where she lived her entire life. Her mother was a lovely woman, and despite losing her father at an early age and being a child of the Great Depression, Jean had a happy childhood with her two sisters and many friends.
They had much fun in and around Penticton, including making a bonfire and skating on frozen Okanagan Lake, and hitching rides on the train as it debarked the rail barge on the lake shore. By their own admission, “the Heal girls” were known to be a bit mischievous, but it must have all been good natured, judging by how caringly the trio were watched over by members of the town.
In the 1940’s, Jean worked as a teller at the Royal Bank. She made good friends and was happy there, although being left on her own with a loaded gun to do the final tally and deposit did make her nervous.
In 1947, Jean married Dick Gibbs, and they built a house and planted a cherry orchard on the West Bench. They adopted a newborn baby in 1959 and another in 1962—two extremely fortunate boys—and raised their family happily together until the tragic, sudden death of Dick in 1978. After the loss of her beloved husband, Jean and her younger son moved into an apartment in town, and she returned to full-time employment, working at the tax office until her retirement in 1988.
Jean lived in her Calgary Avenue apartment until 2017, when she moved into Charles Manor Retirement Residence, and then into Westview Place in 2020.
Being of service to the community was important to Jean, and she volunteered her time and energy helping with various Penticton activities and events.
She served as a leader for the Girl Guides, and later, when her boys reached the right age, for the Cub Scouts pack on the West Bench. Through her decades-long membership in the Business and Professional Women’s Club, she was a regular volunteer at the Penticton Square Dance Jamborees and helped with the city’s forest fire relief efforts. Jean often provided for bake sales, such as those held by the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, where she was a long-time member.
She also baked diligently for events at her church, St. Saviour’s Anglican, where she was a devoted parishioner. For many years she was a member of the church’s altar guild, and it was a common sight at Jean’s apartment to see freshly cleaned and ironed altar cloths and purificators draped carefully over the furniture. Perhaps this can somehow account for the seeming miracle Jean worked in using a strictly limited income to fund regular donations to a multitude of charities.
Though forever richer for having included her, many lives will be poorer with Jean’s passing. Her absence will of course be felt most acutely by her family, whom she loved, and with whom she shared many laughter-filled holidays, happy dinners, and boisterous card games.
Beloved mother, grandmother, sister, and aunt, Jean is survived by her sons and daughters-in-law, Brian Gibbs and Meg Streiff, of Melbourne, Australia, and Martin and Kim Gibbs, of Naramata; grandchildren, Brandon Gibbs, of Grenaa, Denmark, and Nick Gibbs, of Calgary; sisters and brothers-in-law, Gladys and Al Cross, of Penticton, and Rheta and Ken Loader, of Hanover, and their children, Barb and Norm; niece and nephew-in-law, Linda and Rod Penfold, of Penticton, and their daughters, Marnie and Selena, and Selena’s children, Hunter and Pollee; nephew and niece-in-law, Allan and Debbie Cross, of Port Alberni, and their children, Darcy (and his sons, Drew and Sawyer), Travis (and his wife, Melissa, and their children, Nickolas, Nolan, and Daniela), and Ashley; and nephew-by-marriage, David Brooks, of Keremeos.
By now, Jean would be thinking, This is too long. Nobody wants to hear all this stuff about me. Get to the bit about the service.
A memorial service will be held at Saint Saviour’s Anglican Church, in the Chapel, where Jean was christened and married, at some point in the future. It was Jean’s wish that donations be made to the Penticton Hospital in lieu of flowers. The family are deeply grateful for the warmth and care Jean received from the staff and residents at Charles Manor and Westview Place, as was Jean herself.Obituary-
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