Joyce Diane (Kiefer) Gibson passed away peacefully on Wednesday, August 3, 2022, at Aegis Callahan House in Shoreline, WA, where she lived for the past 5 years.
Joyce was born on August 31, 1931, in Mitchell, Nebraska to Earl “Doc” and Melvina “Pat” Kiefer. Joyce was the youngest of two, preceded in death by her older sister Jean. As a youngster, Joyce could be spotted running to see the trains pass through town, lifeguarding at the local pool, twirling her baton at high school games, or selling concessions at the Nile Theater (still in operation since 1939 – 4.8 Google rating).
After graduating from Mitchell High School in 1949, Joyce went to Western Nebraska Hospital School of Nursing where she completed a 2-year nursing program before finishing her schooling at the University of Iowa (B.S. 1954). Joyce and her fellow nursing school classmates remained life-long friends and had periodic reunions.
It was at the VA Hospital in Iowa City where Joyce met Don Gibson, the love of her life. Don had the good fortune of being stationed on beautiful Bainbridge Island to fulfill his 2-year Army obligation. A quick phone call and marriage proposal brought Joyce to Bainbridge. Joyce relished in recounting her cross-country drive to Bainbridge and penned, ‘I drove off and a wonderful new life started for me, Wow Lucky Me!’ Joyce and Don were married on February 16, 1957.
On Bainbridge, Joyce and Don made many friends and started their family. Joyce and Don welcomed their first born, Kevin, in September of 1959, followed by Tamara, David, and Brian. Although they had four children of their own, they played host to three exchange students through the Bainbridge Rotary Club. Joyce and Don loved their exchange students (Jenny, Margaret, and Wendy); they are considered family. Joyce and Don even hosted some wayward German travelers that couldn’t get a spot at Fay Bainbridge State Park and travelled to Germany later in life to reconnect. Don and Joyce were very welcoming to all.
Joyce worked for Messenger House as a staff nurse from October 1973 until she got her dream job as the School Nurse for the Bainbridge School District in 1975. Joyce retired after 20+ years in 2006 but didn’t retire from nursing, regularly volunteering for Kitsap County Health Department.
Sunrise Drive was home to the Gibson house, garden, orchard, and chicken coop. The family dynamic was to work hard, provide for yourself, and care about others. Everyone loved Joyce. She was kind, funny, and a loyal friend to many.
Joyce’s life was not without heartbreak as her and Don lost their oldest son, Kevin, to a tragic car accident. Later in life, Joyce developed Alzheimer’s and struggled to recall all her life-long accomplishments. Through it all, Joyce remained her naturally kind and funny self.
Joyce touched so many lives with her warm, loving spirit. She will be deeply missed. Joyce was preceded in death by her husband of 51 years, Don, and her son Kevin. Joyce is survived by three children, Tamara (Gellert) of Seattle (with husband Nick and children Morgan and Frances), David of Macon, GA (with wife Bonnie and children Jane, Will, and Kevin), and Brian of Seattle (with wife Stephanie and children Nora and Tess). Joyce is also survived by her “adopted” exchange student daughter Margaret Steyn of Vancouver, BC (with husband Douw and daughter JoHanna).
In lieu of gifts, be kind, funny, loyal, and welcoming like Joyce.