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
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.