Middletown residents and local leaders are reflecting this week on the life and service of this community's first-ever female councilor and council president, , who died Sunday after a two month battle with cancer. She was 89 years old.
“She was a wonderful lady,” said current Town Council President Arthur Weber. “Her ethical standards were impeccable.”
Gibbs served on the council from 1974-1980 and then again from 1982-1984. After her time on council, Gibbs went on to the Rhode Island Senate, serving until 2008, representing Middletown, Little Compton, and parts of Portsmouth, Newport and Tiverton.
Weber said he was inspired by Gibb's patience and passion, that took her from house to house listening to each household’s concerns.
“And she was no spring chicken,” Weber said. When he decided to run for the position himself, he followed her lead, and went door to door to speak to each family. When he knocked on her house, Gibbs asked what he was doing.
"I'm doing what you taught me," he said.
Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed said that Gibbs was strongly dedicated to public service throughout her life.
“From her service to the Navy during World War II through her tenure in elected office, she was an energetic and principled public servant who strongly represented her constituents while addressing the issues of the day with wisdom and compassion,” she said.
Councilor Chris Semonelli agreed that her energy was contagious and inspirational.
“Middletown has lost a great champion of the people," Semonelli said. "She worked tirelessly for her constituents in our great town. She will be missed."
Calling hours for Gibbs will be held Saturday, April 14, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Hambly Funeral Home, 30 Red Cross Avenue in Newport. The memorial service will be at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 15, in the United Congregational Church, 524 Valley Road, Middletown.