Josephine "Jo" Gibbs
Iowa City - Josephine (Dunn) Gibbs was a truly remarkable woman. Josephine (Jo) was born September 16, 1918 on a Nebraska farm as the first of six daughters to Joseph and Katherine Dunn. She was known to be a good student, a caring spirit and a beauty pageant runner up. Her love for life, graceful determination and kind smile won the heart of James (Jim) Gibbs. They were married on August 2, 1941 and welcomed five strapping boys in the next 7 years. After getting the boys out of diapers, Jo and Jim added two beautiful girls to their busy Chariton, Iowa home. Twenty years later, they moved to Iowa City and Jo would work for and see all seven of her children graduate from the University of Iowa. The next chapter would be filled with weddings, birth of grandchildren, and loss. In 1982, Jo and Jim lost their oldest son, Jim, in a bicycle accident. Three years later, Jo would then lose her husband. Jo courageously forged ahead finding purpose and passion with family, St. Mary's Catholic Church activities, visits with friends, and Sunday dinners with grandchildren that attended the University of Iowa. In 2015, she moved to Cedar Rapids to be closer to family and discovered friendship at Keystone Retirement Community and All Saints Church. She passed away on June 10, 2021 after 102 years and 256 days of sharing her light with the world.
Those are her milestones, but here is what made her a remarkable person. Jo believed that love only multiplied with the birth of each child. She extended that principle with each addition to her family. Love multiplied by three generations as she was fortunate to be a mother, a grandmother, and great grandmother. Her arms were always ready for a hug, and she was quick with a word of encouragement or simple "I love you".
Jo was a life-long learner who read history and remained curious about current events, business, politics, as well as the latest trends. She leaned into conversations that contained different perspectives and shared her thoughts with a diplomatic wit. She learned about the stock market later in life and became an avid reader of financial news reports. Jo was not to be underestimated and impressed brokers with insights on industry trends and company performance.
Jo was gifted at connecting with and letting people know how much they mattered. A fantastic listener who would seek to understand you by asking probing questions. She guided you to the answer while masterfully letting you think it was your idea all along. Kindness was her superpower, and she let it shine in the smallest of everyday tasks such as the way she answered the phone with a polite, "Good morning, afternoon, or evening". If you were one of the lucky ones that she loved, the greeting would be quickly followed with a "Well hello dear".
Jo stood at only five feet tall; however, her radiant smile and confident demeaner drew your attention as she entered a room. She was a wonderful cook making dishes that contained a dash of this, pitch of that or dollop of mayonnaise. Jo loved to tell nostalgic stories about growing up, her sisters, or the antics of raising seven children. Her sparkling eyes and infectious laugh captivated you whether this was the first or tenth time you heard the tale.
Jo's faith guided her through moments of joy and sustained her through moments of unimaginable sadness. She formed a special connection to God and the recipient of her prayers often found clarity and peace when they needed it most. This relationship brought Jo comfort, hope, and preparation for the angel wings she wears today.
She is survived by her beloved sons and daughters: Jackie Gibbs of Iowa City, IA; Mike and Mary Jo Gibbs of Tulsa, OK; Dick and Carol Gibbs of Lake Forest, IL; Bob and Rhonda Gibbs of Bloomington, MN; Bill and BJ Gibbs of Cedar Rapids, IA; Ann and Tim Lehan of Dekalb, IL; Mary Jo and Alan Jahn of Robins, IA; her 22 Grandchildren (all of whom claim to be her favorite), and her 42 (plus twins on the way) Great Grandchildren. By living, she gave us all a better life. By dying, she left us all brokenhearted. That is her legacy, the likes of which we will honor each and every day.
Those who knew and adored Jo can celebrate her remarkable life on June 18, 2021 at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Iowa City, Iowa. The family will greet friends at 9 AM with a funeral mass beginning at 10 AM. Burial will be in St. Joseph Cemetery in Iowa City. Instead of flowers and plants, the family suggests memorials to St. Mary Catholic Church in Iowa City, All Saints Catholic Church in Cedar Rapids or Mercy Hospice Care in Cedar Rapids.
Josephine's life is summarized best in the words of Maya Angelou, "People may forget what you said, they may forget what you did, but they will never forget how you make them feel." On behalf of her family, we felt loved, loved, loved.
Lensing Funeral & Cremation Service is handling arrangements. www.lensingfuneral.com
Published by the Iowa City Press-Citizen from Jun. 13 to Jun. 14, 2021.