Elizabeth "Betty" Gibson died Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, at Rochester East Health Service surrounded by her children. She was 89.
She was born May 5, 1931, in International Falls to Walter and Eloise Scheela. Her father was a math teacher and high school athletic director and her mother was a homemaker.
Betty made the national honor society at Falls High School, was captain of the girls softball team, played the violin and starred in school plays.
She married Donald Gibson in 1949 and they set a goal of having a dozen children when their first son, Bruce, was born the following year. Eleven others followed, almost annually, until 1963, when they reached a perfect dozen.
While the burgeoning family required Donald to juggle multiple jobs, Betty thrived in her noisy household. She was a positive mother who sang while she vacuumed the house and was still smiling when her kids got home from school to find the living room draped with freshly ironed clothes.
The Gibson family lived in International Falls, Buffalo, WY and Woodstock, IL, before moving to Rochester in 1965.
There was not a lot of money, or even enough sometimes, but the kids didn't seem to know.
Both parents were active in their children's sports teams and Betty was a Cub Scout leader who didn't mind adding more kids to an already full table.
When her youngest child started kindergarten in 1969, Betty went to work at the Rochester Post Bulletin, where she handled classified ads until 1982.
She was a lifelong Catholic and a member of Church of the Resurrection and later Pax Christi Catholic Church.
She was also a poet, ready to share a well-crafted rhyme at special occasions. She was funny, occasionally slinging a verbal jab if someone needed to be put in their place. She was the life of the party and the heart of her family.
Somehow, in her spare time she also became a master crocheter, producing a mountain's-worth of mittens, scarves, hats, Christmas stockings and dolls. She made afghan blankets for each of her 36 grandchildren, presenting them at their high school graduations. The final one was presented five years ago.
Betty and Donald divorced in 1976 and she married John Marsolek in 1982 and moved to Austin. They enjoyed dancing, traveling and playing cards during their time together. They later divorced and Betty returned to Rochester in 2010.
Betty got her first apartment in Rochester the following year and, at age 80, she was living alone for the first time. She loved her new social life, taking the bus around town and attending her grandkids' various sporting events. She was the loudest voice in the stands. Even the referees knew when she was there.
It would be accurate to call Betty an expert on Minnesota sports and a huge fan of the Vikings, Twins and the Gophers hockey team. She loved attending games in the Twin Cities and enticed her children to take her because she never learned to drive.
She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease six years ago and lived in several senior housing facilities in Rochester.
When she moved to Health Services East nearly four years ago, she could no longer feed herself. So every night, one of her children would show up to feed her dinner. On weekends, as many as nine relatives would turn up, vying for the honor of feeding her. She was always happy for the company.
The Gibson family would like to thank the staff of Rochester Health Services East for the outstanding care they provided our mother. She always seemed content and well cared for.
Betty is survived by two brothers, William Scheela of Bemidji and Walter Scheela of Indio, CA; 12 children, Bruce (Bonnie) Gibson of Rochester, Sherry (Gary) Jacobson of Austin, TX, Patti (Jim) Middendorf of Clayton, CA, Gail (Dan) Johnson of Pine River, Marcia (Keith) Seibert of Chaska, Donnie (Kathy) Gibson of Rochester, David (Sue) Gibson of Rochester, Diane (Gary) Hart of Olathe, KS, Cari (Jim) Schultz, of Rochester, Jill (Jay) Williams of Owatonna, Scott Gibson of Oronoco and Susie (Steve) Bauer of Faribault; 36 grandchildren, Adam, Eric and Sean Gibson and Bethany Schwalbe; Libby Gagne and Gunnar Jacobson; Luke, Isaac and Kendra Middendorf; Willie and Drew Johnson, Katie Cichy and Molly Medenwaldt; Nicki Blazevic-Seibert, Jodi Cossitt, Amy Seibert and Angela Robinette; Tony Gibson, Kelly Kranz and Maggie Campbell; Erin, Laura and Gina Gibson; Jeremy Aug, Ryan Helling, Sarah Hall and Jesse Hart; Jacob Schultz and Cali Salley; Melissa Richer and Alec Williams; Samantha Ryan and Mitch Gibson; April Kanzenbach, Chase and EllieBeth Bauer; and 48 great-grandchildren.
A public visitation will be held from 4-7 p.m. on Monday, March 1, 2021 at Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Homes, 5421 Royal Pl NW, Rochester, MN. Interment will be in Calvary Cemetery in Rochester, Minnesota. A private service for family will be livestreamed on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at 11 a.m. on The Church of the Resurrection webpage: www.rescathroch.org/WP/ Due to COVID-19 health concerns, masks are required at all services with proper social distancing measures.
Memorials preferred to Rochester East Health Services, 501 8th Ave SE, Rochester, MN 55904. Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home is honored to be serving the Gibson family; to share a special memory or condolence please visit www.ranfranzandvinefh.com
4 people have supported the family by purchasing them flowers or gifts from the Healing Registry.
Love spoken here❤...what an incredible tribute in words (lovely obituary, and photos of a life well lived and celebrated. A spirited woman of smiles, commitment, joy, faith and family. My parents and her parents were close friends, and I loved seeing photos of Eloise, my confirmation sponsor. My heartfelt condolences to each and all privileged to love and be loved by her. Betty was both blessing and blessed. Her legacy is, indeed, love.
Dave Gibson and Family
It may seem like things are sad right now, but from my own experience I can tell you your wonderful memories will fill you with laughter and joy. The funeral was beautiful and the sharing of memories very moving. May God bless you and your family in the times ahead. Jim Heydon
I'll not forget when Betty moved in to High Pointe. She was delighted to be here and made may friends and enjoyed participating in social gatherings. What wit! She was such a delight. she was so proud of all of the kids and grandkids. We were sad to see her go but also knew she needed to be somewhere that had 24/7 care. Peace, prayers and blessings,
I'm offering my condolences to the family. I think back to Southport neighborhood and all I can say is 'WOW"! Our families were so intertwined with each others back in the early years. Pinewood School, Central High and of course Mayo. Playing softball in your yard by the willow tree your Dad planted. Parties in the garage. Marcia and I going to Father/Daughter Dance at mayo with our Dads. My crush on David back in grade school. Just so many great memories to look back on. It was wonderful seeing Bruce and Carrrie at Moms memorial service a few years back. Would love to have come to visitation but due to covid , it just isn't possible. May your family know yous are all in our thoughts and prayers. Again, my deepest sympathy extended to all the Gibson family and relatives. Tink and Dick Schultz
To the Gibson families,
So sorry for your loss. I have many fond memories of Betty and the entire family growing up in the Southport area. In the early years I had many encounters with Betty as the Post Bulletin carrier and collecting the $ 1.80 for the two weeks of home delivery. She was a very kind lady and always had time to visit.
May all your fond memories of Betty bring you comfort and peace. With deepest sympathy and prayers.