Shirlee Gibbons Obituary


Obituary of Shirlee Gibbons

Three years before the crash of the stock market, back when the roaring Twenties were still roaring, Shirlee Mae (Tait) Gibbons was born on the third of April, 1926 in Evanston, IL to John (Jack) Tait and Margaret (Connolly) Tait. Just past midnight on June 24th 2017, Shirlee completed her journey at 91 years old.
Along with her little sister, Patricia, and Mom and Dad, the young family spent every Saturday afternoon seeing all of the new Hollywood movies. They caused quite the scandal when the entire family went to see “Gone with the Wind,” and its R rated ending. Her father truly did not “Give a damn” what others thought.
Her most prized possession growing up was a Shirley Temple doll given to her by her Aunt Dot.
Shirlee’s young childhood was spent in a house with her Grandmother, aunt, mother and father and sister. She loved being surrounded by family in Gramma Connolly’s house.
When World War Two struck, seventeen-year-old Shirlee dropped out of high school to marry her high school sweetheart, Steven Lindquist, before he deployed overseas. Shirlee traveled with her mother to North Carolina for an intimate ceremony on July 22nd, 1943.
A crewmember of the bomber named ‘Queen of Hearts’, Steve was killed during the Battle of Normandy, when his plane crash landed at New Romney, Kent after a mission. This was July 17th, 1944. Six days before her first wedding anniversary, she became a war widow at just eighteen.
As time passed, and the war raged on, Shirlee returned to finish high school, graduating from New Trier High School in Winnetka, IL. She was introduced to a brother of a high school friend, who was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Station, north of Chicago. On this ‘double date’ she met the brother’s friend, Gregory Gibbons.

A romance blossomed.
Living directly across the street from the local fire department, On V-E Day, she listened to the sirens ring for 24 hours straight. Again, on V-J Day, the sirens rang, as the country celebrated the end of the war.
Still deployed overseas, it would be weeks and weeks before Shirlee received news that Greg was coming home. The message, which was still a secret, was written underneath the stamp, so no one would see it. Sssshhh!
During this time, Shirlee went to St. Mary’s College in Kansas City where she earned her associate’s degree in art design. In early June 1948, a third sister joined the Tait family. Shirlee and Pat had a brand-new baby sister, Pamela. Days later, on June 12th, 1948, Shirlee and Greg were married in Evanston, IL, surrounded by family and friends.
As the saying goes, ‘All was right with the world.’
Shirlee and Greg stayed in Illinois for Greg to go to school. First for Greg’s bachelor’s degree and then his doctor of optometry degree. Shirlee worked as a cashier at a local shop and prepared their home for their first baby. Sewing tiny clothes and painting old furniture into new.
Having already learned how hard life can be, the lesson’s kept coming. In March 1949, their first born son, perfect in every way, just did not take that very first breath. They named him Joseph, after the Patron Saint of Families.
Then, they packed away their hopes and dreams, and waited for a happier tomorrow. And those happier days came with one, two, three healthy children born in two and a half years.
“What one didn’t think of, the other ones did,” Shirlee said many times over. One of her favorite stories was when the neighbor called over at ten o’clock at night and said, “Shirlee, do you know your children are out swinging in the back yard?” Out the window they had climbed.
The first boy, girl, boy were followed by a boy and then another boy. Years of boy scouts and girl scouts, church school, Christian Mother’s and American Legion Auxiliary followed. After two more girls joined the family, they slowly transitioned from scouts to sports. Shirlee became one of Cambridge High School’s most loyal fans, a constant figure at Friday night football games during the autumn evenings and high up in the bleachers on every Tuesday and Friday night during basketball season. A broken car window during baseball season was just the price she was willing to pay to show her for the Jackets ball team.
As the children grew, she had more time for her own interests, including machine knitting. What began with sweaters and vests for children and grandchildren, turned into her own knitting shop, the ‘Cambridge Spinning Wheel’. That grew into the distributorship for Toyota knitting machines for the entire Midwest.
This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to the New York Island, from the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf stream waters…
A lifetime love of camping, saw Shirlee and Greg visit each of the fifty states, starting first in a fold up tent trailer, upsizing to the ‘Tin Coop’ travel trailer and finally to the full-size motor home to travel the ribbons of highways.  
Shirlee fulfilled a lifetime dream when she flew with her two sisters, Pat and Pam, to visit the emerald isles of Ireland.
In Shirlee’s young life, she overcame devastating tragedies. The loss of for her youngest daughter, Molly along with Molly’s daughter, Jenna Elizabeth in 1996, was a particularly difficult loss to overcome. Following soon after were the deaths of both her sister, Pat, and lifelong best friend, Todd. The two ladies who had held her up during the tragedies in her youth. 
Much of the last years of her life reflected the painful losses of her lifetime. To truly appreciate what Shirlee has accomplished, enjoyed and blessed the world with, reflect upon her long loving marriage, ending only when Greg passed on June 12th, 2009, their 61st anniversary.
Mother of eight, six of her children are spread out across the globe, embracing the lives she gave them. Living, loving and sharing their own lives with children and grandchildren of their own.
These include children: Gregory (Gig) and Barbara Gibbons of Polaris, MT, Patricia Gibbons and Walter Menning of Rochester, MN, Mark Gibbons of Dillion, MT, Michael and Emilie Gibbons of Toulouse, France, Joseph Gibbons of Cambridge, MN, Mary and Gregory Opatz of Rancho Cucamonga, CA.

Grandchildren: Zane and Julie Gibbons (Kestin, Addison and Tate), Lacey Gibbons, Gregory Pishotta and Iwonka Drop, Max Menning, Benjamin Menning, Laura Menning, Jennifer and Christopher Shaffer (John Shaffer, Jacob Shaffer, Kaleb Shaffer, Katherine Shaffer), Mark Gibbons Jr., Kari Gibbons, Marcee Gibbons (Norah Gibbons), Paul Gibbons, Luke Gibbons, John Mark and Corinne Gibbons (Noël and Claire), Hannah Gibbons, Naomi and John Shindelar (Yannick), Cecilia Opatz, Hilary and David Vasquez (Evelyn and Ginevra), Kevin Opatz, Thomas Opatz, Tessa Opatz, Natalie Opatz, Jared Pauly.
Shirlee’s younger sister, Pamela David also carries on the legacy of Shirlee’s life, along with many, many nephews and nieces who have enriched all of our lives throughout numerous events, including vacations in Montana, at Osakis, family reunions at Grand Rapids, dinners at Red Lobsters and more.
Preceded in death by her husband of 61 years, Gregory T. Gibbons. First husband, Steven S. Lindquist, infant son, Joseph Gregory Gibbons, daughter, Molly Kathleen Pauly, granddaughter, Jenna Elizabeth Pauly, both parents, Jack and Margaret Tait, sister, Patricia Ann Karavas. Many beloved brothers and sisters-in-law, cousins and numerous friends.
“Saint Joseph, pray for us.”


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