Mary Louise Gibson

Mary Louise Gibson, 87, passed away peacefully at home Monday evening June 24th in Longwood, Florida with her two sons at her side, just 3 days shy of her 88th birthday.

Mary Gibson was born in June 1936 in Watertown, South Dakota to Herbert Orin and Kathryn Irene (Quinlan) Skinner. She graduated from the Immaculate Conception School and then Watertown High School in 1954. Two years later she received her Associates Degree in Elementary Education from Northern State Teachers College (Northern State University/NSU) in Aberdeen, South Dakota. During college, Mary was president of the National Thespian Society and Northern State’s 1956 Sweetheart Queen.

Shortly after graduation, Mary (Skinner) married her high school sweetheart Peter Gibson who was also attending Northern State. However, soon to be Private Gibson began serving 2 years active duty in the Army while stationed in Fort Smith, Arkansas and then Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.

During her husband’s military service Mary gave birth to Irish twins, first son Michael in Ft. Smith and then son Scott 51 weeks later at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. The family of four soon moved back to South Dakota near Northern State College where they lived in a Quonset hut for several years until Peter received his bachelor of science degree in 1961.

Weeks later, he then began his 35-year career at Hormel Foods in Fremont, Nebraska. Within a few years, he was assigned new sales territories with moves to Butte, Montana; magically located in the Rocky Mountains near the Continental Divide and Mary taught 2nd graders where many students came from nearby ranches. Next, they moved to El Paso, Texas; across the Rio Grande border city of Juarez, Mexico and the two boys could get 50 cent haircuts. She also continued her education at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), where the family often attended football games watching the Flying Miners play home games at the Sun Bowl.

After her husband’s next transfer back to Nebraska (Cornhusker fans forever) for several years; in 1971 he was transferred to Seattle, Washington where they lived in Bellevue (Newport Hills). Mary loved living in the Pacific Northwest. She planned myriad family trips to Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, Mt. Rainier, Timberland Lodge on Mt. Hood in Oregon, and regular ski trips to nearby slopes at The Summit at Snoqualmie (Ski Acres) for weekend and night time skiing and Stevens Pass where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses in the Cascade mountains.
Always the adventurer and teacher, she planned countless day trips, like the one to Bremerton and the Puget Sound Naval shipyard when they toured the USS Missouri; where in September 1945 the Japanese official surrender signing ceremony took place with General Douglas MacArthur presiding while a ship packed with U.S. military personnel observed. Nearby, the family enjoyed annual Unlimited Hydro boat races on Lake Washington and so many other delights the region had to offer near the northern tip of the Pacific coast with countless inlets, estuaries and deep waterways and lakes.

Then the summer of 1975 brought the next move to Hormel’s corporate headquarters in Austin, Minnesota. Enjoyable, fun years followed with new and long-standing friends from the Midwest and many family members nearby in Minnesota and South Dakota.

But alas, 1979 brought the first move to the deep south when husband Pete was transferred to Albany, Georgia as plant manager and Mary once again got back into teaching as a reading specialist at an elementary school.

Finally in 1983, Hormel’s last relocation destination took them to Orlando, where they had their final home built on the 8th hole of Wekiva Golf Club in Longwood, Florida and enjoyed living through their last days. Although Mary had several secretarial positions in various cities she moved to between her two teaching stints, it was the final move to the Sunshine state that took her career in a new direction, when she got her real estate license and worked for Emerson Reality and then Watson Realty Corp., where she excelled with many award-winning years.

Since the summer of when they met as 15-year-old teenagers, Mary and Peter were together for over 70 years. Their magical journey together reflected modest midwestern sensibilities, an adventurous spirit and love for different cultures, as they traveled and experienced the world with old and new friends alike. She enjoyed playing bridge with many fun groups and welcomed the chance to entertain at home. Mary was always active with numerous organizations, from Spokes Book Club to Welcome Wagon in cities across the country to the Red Hat Society in Orlando and their worthy fundraisers.

Mary Gibson was an exceedingly polite lady known for her kindness, gentle spirit and easy-to- laugh sense of humor. Always the gracious host, she put others first and lived by the golden rule; “Do unto others as you would like them to do to you.” Mary was a long-term member of the Annunciation Catholic Church in Altamonte Springs.
Mary was preceded in death by her father and mother and brothers Herbert W. Skinner, Jerome R. Skinner and Edward T. Skinner. She is survived by her two sons Michael A-B Gibson and Scott A-B Gibson. She is also survived by numerous nephews, nieces, great-nephews and great-nieces; with many residing in South Dakota and Minnesota.

A celebration of life get-together of family and friends will take place from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday July 21, 2024 at the family home in Longwood at 336 Needles Court, Longwood, FL 32779.

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