Beloved teacher leaves rich legacy

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally ran in the Cardinal Chronicle, a monthly newsletter published by students at Corona High School. It has been minimally edited for style issues.

Shirley Jeanene Fuller Gibbs, a beloved teacher who educated generations of New Mexico schoolchildren, died peacefully at home on March 18, 2018, after a long and joyous life. She was 80.

Jeanene was born Feb. 1, 1938, and grew up on a ranch in Corona. Because she milked cows twice a day, she could beat any boy in school at arm-wrestling. She graduated from Corona High in 1955 and went on to earn her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Eastern New Mexico University. She occasionally sang with Buddy Holly and other budding stars at Norm Petty Studios in Clovis. For four decades, she taught youngsters in Albuquerque, Clovis and Corona.

She loved to be surrounded by family and friends, laughing and enjoying good food and good company. She loved reading, quilting, cooking, singing, travel, music and dancing. She was always smiling and talking, a beacon at the center of community activities in Corona.

She loved the Corona public schools and students, and the Corona library, which she helped establish and where she volunteered several times a week. She was a lifelong member of the Corona United Presbyterian Church, serving on its Session, and sang alto, tenor or bass as required in the choir. She was a Mountain Ministry Parish Council member and a Commissioner to the Presbytery of Sierra Blanca. She championed and assisted with the student Knowledge Bowl competi-tions.

She wrote successful grants for many Corona improvements, including the library and fire department. After she retired from teaching, she served on the Corona School Board for 14 years.

Jeanene taught more than English and math. She led by example, teaching us to do the best we can with what we have and to treat everyone with kindness and generosity.

She taught us to love reading, so we might know the world and ourselves a bit better. She taught us to love music, so we might know the song of the spirit. She believed in honesty, integrity, compassion and hard work. She believed absolutely in the importance and power of lifelong education.

She was preceded in death by parents Kennan Fuller and Mary Frances Jones Fuller of Corona; brother Harrell (Hal) Fuller of Corona and Virginia; aunt Jessie Fuller Harris of Albuquerque, uncle Fenner Davis Jones and aunt Betty Jones of Albuquerque.

Jeanene is survived by her loving husband of 50 years, A.J. Gibbs, of Corona, whom she met on a blind date plotted by friends; their children, daughter Kelly Gibbs Brewer and husband Steve of Albuquerque; son Kennan Austin Gibbs and wife Sharon of Rio Rancho; son Fenner Jason Gibbs of Las Cruces; grandsons Max Brewer and Seth Brewer of Albuquerque; niece Amanda Fuller Richards, her husband, Andrew Richards, and their son, Liam Richards; cousins Ward Harris, Chris Jones Everett, Kathy Jones Caffrey and Connie Jones, and their families.

Jeanene will be remembered as a beautiful soul by a host of family, friends, students and admirers. She belonged to us all.

A public Celebration of Life was held on March 24, in the Corona Schools auditorium. Instead of flowers, contributions may be made to the Village of Corona Public Library in Jeanene’s memory.

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