Jake Gibbs
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GIBBS Jake, 66, died suddenly on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 of natural causes. He will be deeply missed by his wife, Anita Courtney, and his daughters, Delia and Delaney Gibbs, who all loved him beyond measure. He is also survived by his siblings Eileen Hesch, Johnny Gibbs, and Kitty Snyder, as well as his in-laws, nieces, nephews, and many close friends in Lexington and across the country. He grew up in an Irish Catholic family in a working class neighborhood in Troy, New York, where he played pool, baseball, and poker. His lifelong interest in working class realities and Irish heritage began here. Jake was Lexington's 3rd district Councilmember from 20142020. The day he died, he was scheduled to present a proposal to the City Council to promote a citywide home composting program. He was the co-founder of Trees Lexington!, a non-profit that encourages community members to take an active role in expanding and maintaining the local tree canopy. Jake taught at the Bluegrass Community and Technical College for 33 years on the subjects of European and American History, History of Science, Peace Studies, History of Prisons and Criminology, and Logic. He had Masters degrees in History and Library Science from the University of Kentucky and had completed the coursework for a Masters in Philosophy. He had a hunger for reading and often lamented that there wasn't enough time to read extensively about all the subjects he was interested in. His reading chair is currently stacked with 10 books and 4 magazines he was in the process of reading. Jake was the world's leading expert on Little Blue Books. He understood the importance of this series started in the 1920's to provide education to the working class. With the help of Delia and Delaney, he spent 15 years completing the definitive bibliography of this series. It can be found at www.littleblue booksbibliography.com. He was in the process of donating his complete collection to libraries across the country. As a co-owner of Alfalfa from 19882000, he bussed tables, washed dishes, and each Saturday, he filled his 1965 Chevy pickup with local produce from the Farmers' Market. Before his daughters were born, he rode his motorcycle cross-country many times. After becoming a father, Jake traded his motorcycle for a station wagon and a bicycle. In more recent years, he rode his bike along the Danube and Loire Rivers. He loved riding the Legacy Trail and could make it from his downtown home to the Horse Park in 48 minutes. He loved his book group of 20+ years, his weekly poker game, the High Street YMCA, Third Street Stuff & Coffee, the Good Foods Co-op, the public library, and West Sixth Brewing. The greatest joy of Jake's life was his daughters, Delia and Delaney. He related to them with humor and deep love, respect and devotion. He shared daily life with Anita for 41 years-- they were each other's compass and companion. Together they made an extraordinary parenting team. Some ways to honor Jake: read a book, call an old friend, ride a bike, walk somewhere you would normally drive, shop at a local business, plant a tree, start a home composting bin, or make a donation to Trees Lexington!. We will honor his Jake's life on Saturday, March 7 at 10 am at the Kentucky Theater.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Lexington Herald-Leader on Mar. 5, 2020.
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26 entries
March 26, 2020
When Jake and I were both teaching at BCTC, I would go into his office - first reading the funny cartoons posted all over his door! - and then we would have some wonderful conversations. At that time both of our kids were unhappy in the education system and we both felt there had to be a better way to learn. We talked a lot about different educational philosophies and together considered lots of options.
Jake to me was an independent thinker. He wasn't a contrarian but he never flinched from questioning the status quo. He served as a safe place to voice my concerns about education and I think we both felt stronger in making unconventional choices for our kids. Jake was a wonderful listener and thoughtful in his opinions. I will miss him forever. As I sit here I'm surprised just how much he is in my thoughts and how grateful I am to have known him. Dana Tackett
Dana Tackett
March 25, 2020
Jake was the most weirdly normal person I encountered in grad schóol. He helped me get through the chaos with late night talks, evenings at High on Rose, and periodic motorcycle rides. I still use Jake terms like " tons of beer" and "earning groovy points", and noone knows what the hell I am talking about. Jake was a wonderful, warm, generous old soul. My heart goes out to his lovely family.
Michael Porter
March 25, 2020
Gregory Doyle
March 25, 2020
*From my FB post when I heard the news...
Wow! I am just floored at the news of Jake Gibbs' passing. What a smart wonderful and inspiring soul he was.
I went back to school at 28 years old (1997), with a 2 y/o daughter. It took 5+ years to get my A.A., then B.A. and I am UK class of 2003 in part because of Jake Gibbs.
I do not remember a lot about my LCC teachers, but Jake and his classes, I remember lots. He taught my Logic and US History classes 108 and 109. There was a day while in his class that the snow/weather was so bad hardly anyone showed up. He didn't want to proceed with the planned lecture because so many would miss out. The 5 or 6 of us that made it class, he asked if we could skip the lecture. We were free to go or we could circle our desks up and talk about politics, history or anything we wanted to talk about. As a 100 level class, that meant everyone was 18 y/o and I, a non-traditional student, was 28. He pulled everyone into the discussion and I still remember it as one of the most enlightened and enlightening conversations I have ever participated in. The way Jake explained the Vietnam era of history and politics plus current politics is what made me want to get into politics after graduation. Of course, that didn't pan out but that was my choice.
I've heard before that you go to college not only to learn the different subject matter but most importantly, what you learn is how to think, research, apply critical thinking skills and logic and learn to make your own informed decisions...all of this, I have Jake to thank for teaching me. My heart goes out to his wife and girls, what a guy!
Michelle Ireland
March 25, 2020
It was a pleasure to have known you and the community projects you have promoted will live on.
Mark Kleckner
March 25, 2020
Met Jake when my son Greg introduced him to Donald and I end of 70's. After that always in and out of our home.
David, Greg and Jake are together again.
Georgia Bryant
March 25, 2020
Jake and I have had about the same approach to dressing up', in other words not so much'. So, I don't know if you will recall, but when he had to go interview for his teaching position you called me to ask if I had a suit Jake could borrow. We were about the same size. I had been playing piano at the Hyatt and had to wear a suit to the gig so I had gone to Goodwill and purchased a sturdy, blue two-piece which I am sure had belonged to a gangster in a past life. No bullet holes though. Anyway, you came by and picked it up, (I strongly recommended that you have it cleaned before the interview), and Jake got the job which he performed so well in for so long. It has been with some small amount pride (and laughter) that I have reflected how my 2nd hand, twenty-dollar suit had been instrumental in helping a great teacher get his lifelong gig. Peace to you and yours.
Patrick McNeese
March 25, 2020
I will never ever forget standing with Jake, Anita's father and Theresa Hildebrand when the surgeon came out after Delia's brain tumor surgery. (1993, I believe. Anita had gone home after a very long day at the hospital to nurse baby Delaney.) The surgeon asked us to hold hands in a circle for a prayer, which he led. Although I don't think any of us was particularly religious, Jake was the first to grab our hands and bow his head as we stood in that circle with tears of gratitude flowing freely. Such a devoted dad who loved his girls so strongly and unabashedly! I always appreciated his politics & the many stories about what a great teacher he was, but his love of Delia and Delaney is what always touched my heart about him most.
Carolyn Dennis
March 25, 2020
I tried to write something cause I was inspired by his life. I hope it actually does any justice to the life of Jake.

There's this story of a man
He walked slow and humbly through the streets
Lived beyond being just a man
Loving this world and loving his blue jeans

His beard captured the wind
Crossing countries on a cycle
His family held his heart
And he taught them every book can be a bible

This man taught children how to be children
Taught adults to be adultier
Wanted us all to take things less seriously
Except in regards to what makes us happier.

He could twirl and leap with the youngest ones
Running wild through the dirt and grass
He could stand and argue with the distinguished ones
Any chance to fight for us he couldn't pass

He was an oak tree in a field of hay
And by trees he is remembered
Symbols to his life and to his strength
To his long lasting impact and protection he offered.

There's this story of a man
That lives beyond the years we knew him
In every soul we see walking
In every breeze that sways a trees limb.

There's this story of a man
Carried forward by time and others
Not merely as stories and anecdotes
But in every time we stand up for another
Shannon Greer
March 25, 2020
A good man who made a positive impact on so many others. His legacy shall live on. Thank you for your kindness, wisdom and compassion, Jake.
Rob Bolson
March 25, 2020
Jake was my professor at LCC back in the late 90's early 2000's. The class was Logic. He sure made it interesting and got the most out of the class with his style of teaching. It was not an easy class, but an enjoyable class. His life outside of being a professor was selfless and kind. He was a great guy and charitable in many different areas. Jake was a genuine individual who will be truly missed.
Justin Gabbard
March 10, 2020
Jake and I met in grade school, played Little League together, hung together at Catholic High and sweated out the 1971 draft lottery, albeit in disparate college towns, together. He was a special friend. Talented "Hawaiian" guitar player, independent thinker, sneaky good student, and the source of many thrill-filled rides to Grafton Lake on the back of his first "bike", a Honda 90cc! Tons of good memories.
Visited him in KY in '81, saw him again in '08 in Troy. He came home to comfort another childhood friend suffering cancer. Anita, Delaney, Delia, your Jake will be sorely missed. My deepest condolences.
Thomas Hunt
March 8, 2020
I am so sorry to hear about Jake's death. I worked as an Academic Advisor at BCTC until my recent retirement. He was one of the professors, who students would often request as an instructor, because they had liked a previous class he had taught or because a friend had recommended his class. Whenever our paths would cross on Campus, Jake would always greet me with a smile and cheerful hello. I also know that he was very dedicated to his work as a council member. My thoughts are with his family during this sad time.
Debbie Dalton
March 7, 2020
Jake was my History teacher at LCC 20 years ago. We were the same age. I was returning to school in my 40's. I was terrified and he was wonderful to me. He encouraged me and made me feel hopeful. I saw him a few times over the years at Alfalfa's and he always remembered me. I never had another college professor show me such kindness. He will be missed.
Janie Teter
March 6, 2020
Jake was a model for how we all should aspire to live our lives. I am grateful that I knew him. ❤
Sylvia Kessler
March 6, 2020
I was shocked and saddened to hear of Jake's passing. My heart goes out to you, Delia, and Delaney
in this difficult time. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
Glenn Medley
Glenn Medley
March 6, 2020
This news is overwhelming. Jake was a warm, unselfish, creative person -- I cannot imagine Lexington without him. My love to Anita and their daughters. How sad..
Pam Miller
March 5, 2020

I was shocked and saddened to hear about Jake. I talked to him often at Woodward Heights Neighborhood Association meetings and always found him to be careful listener to my concerns. The council will miss him sorely. My condolences to you and your daughters.

Carolyn Sears
(formerly Health Department co-worker.)
Carolyn Mills Sears
March 5, 2020
To Jake's family, my condolences. He was a wonderful councilman and a great friend. I shall miss him.

Woodward Heights
Timothy Kuryla
March 5, 2020
I know many hearts are heavy today with the news of Jake's passing. He was a wonderful man. My sympathies to Anita, Delia and Delaney. Jake will be missed.
Gayla Donnelly
March 5, 2020
Stalwart neighborhood advocate and leader, local hero. We will miss you so much .
Linda Connolly
March 5, 2020
This man could paint history like no one I have ever known. He made learning so easy and interesting. I hated taking history classes until I met this man. Good memories. Thank you, Jake.
March 5, 2020
Jake with the Bell Court "walking school bus" in front of the Woodland Avenue fire station around 2000.
Amanda Reid
March 5, 2020
My deepest sympathies; Jake will be missed! I had the honor to work with Jake when he was teaching at BCTC. He contributed so much to the world around him; he truly lived life to the fullest and was dedicated to helping others.
Maureen Cropper
March 5, 2020
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
March 5, 2020
I was blessed to have had Jake for Euro History at LCC in the early 90's. As difficult as he was, I truly enjoyed everything about him; his knowledge, wisdom (to paraphrase him televisions were totally unnecessary!) . I looked forward to every class!
I ran into him at the High Street Y a few years back and I told him how much I appreciated his class and opening my eyes to so much! He talked about his family, his new local radio show/station he was really excited about. He stayed very much involved in local interests and his councilman duties!
An invaluable member of the community! He will truly be missed! Much love and prayers to his family!
Laura Parrish
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