Shirley Louise Bernhoft Gibson
November 26, 1927 – November 15, 2018
Shirley was born November 26, 1927 in Burlington, Washington, the youngest daughter of George Kristian and Ellen Victoria (Ekman) Bernhoft. She grew up on the family dairy farm in Mount Vernon, Washington with her parents, sisters Eloise Kristine and Beatrice Annette, and grandparents Lewis and Kristine (Otterstedt) Ekman.
As a young child, Shirley played with the barn kittens and learned to milk a cow. She showed a great musical talent and began playing violin at age three, competing in numerous state and regional competitions and developing a lifelong love of music. Shirley was active in her high school drama society, playing the lead role in several productions.
After graduating from high school, Shirley moved to Hollywood, California as an aspiring model and actress. But, she soon moved to Olympia, Washington to live with her sister Beatrice whose husband had been killed at the Battle of the Bulge. Together, they rented an apartment on Water Street from John F. M. and Imogen Pace (Nickell) Gibson, and Shirley began working a few blocks away at the Capitol Building.
While living in Olympia, Shirley and the Gibsons became great friends. When their son, John Francis “Frank” Gibson (1916-2010), returned from the Pacific Theatre, they encouraged him to introduce himself to Shirley. One day, he appeared on her doorstep, announcing “my mother sent me over to play”. They married eleven months later on November 8, 1947 and were devoted to each other for 62 years.
Although they called Spokane home, Frank and Shirley traveled extensively during the early years of their marriage. At that time, he was building a successful construction company with University of Washington engineering classmate and business partner, William “Bill” J. Roberts. Frank retired in 1968.
In 1972, Shirley opened Gibson’s Antiques in pursuit of her love of history, art and antiques. Specializing in fine English antiques, she loved her annual buying trips to England, often accompanied by friends Joan Degerstrom, Jean Johns or Ginny Majer. During those years, Shirley was an active member of the Spokane Chamber of Commerce and became its first woman board member. Also, she was a board member of the Governor’s Mansion Foundation. Shirley retired in 1992.
Shirley attended the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist for almost 70 years and was active in its ministries. She taught Sunday school and belonged to the St. Stephen Guild, St. Nicholas Guild and Altar Guild. Also, she belonged to the Cathedral Landscape Association, serving for many years as its landscape chairman and a member of the Cathedral’s property committee.
For many years, Shirley belonged to The Broads Investment Club with Marion Veium Colter, Margery Nail, and other wise and wonderful women. Also, she played in a weekly bridge group with friends Ruth Bouten, Catherine Ritter and Norma Stejer. Shirley loved gardening and fishing, and spending time with her family and friends.
Shirley is remembered as a wonderful daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend. She is survived by daughters, Laura Bassano Gibson, of North Hollywood, CA and Greer Gibson Bacon, son-in-law Rodney J. Bacon, grandson Jennings Gibson Bacon and great-grand daughter, Imogen Louise Bacon, all of Spokane.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, December 21st at 2:00 p.m. the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, 127 East 12th Avenue, Spokane. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Cathedral for the benefit its Altar Guild, St. Nicholas Guild or Cathedral Landscape Association.
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