Helen Elizabeth Gibbons
Helen Elizabeth Gibbons
  • June 29, 1929 - February 26, 2017
  • Indiana

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Bloomington, IN 47401
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BLOOMINGTON - Dr. Helen Elizabeth Gibbons passed peacefully from this life on Sunday, February 26, 2017, after a battle with Parkinson's disease.
Helen was born to John and Gertrude Gibbons on June 29, 1929, in New Castle, Pennsylvania. Some of her earliest and most fond memories of growing up in Pennsylvania included her time spent helping with her grandparent's general store. Helen had one sister, Mary Gibbons Zarilla, and was particularly close with her aunt, "Honey," Mary Elizabeth Mitchell. Her sister and aunt preceded her in death.

Helen received degrees in Business and Education from Villa Maria College and the University of Pittsburgh. She received her Doctorate of Education from Indiana University in 1960. Helen retired from Indiana University in 1990 after serving 30 years as a Business and Education faculty member at the Fort Wayne and Bloomington campuses. She was among the female pioneers of her time in the School of Business.

Helen was a lifetime member of the Indiana University Alumni Association, the IU Foundation President's Circle, The IU 1820 Society, and the Women in Philanthropy Women's Colloquium Steering Committee. A champion and supporter of women in business and a vocal philanthropist, one of her favorites quotes was, "Do your giving while you're living so you're knowing where it's going!" Helen was a generous contributor to Indiana University, Habitat for Humanity, WonderLab, the American Red Cross, and St. Paul Catholic Center, where she was a founding member. In 2004 she was recognized as the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the City of Bloomington for her involvement and philanthropy with a number of organizations.

Helen loved meeting new people, never missed telling a good joke and often shared stories of her amazing travel adventures. From a 28-day chartered Concorde trip circumnavigating the globe in 1996 to a hot-air balloon ride over the African Serengeti, Helen loved to explore. A proud "Irish woman," her favorite overseas adventure was one to the Emerald Isle and one that she hoped to make "one more time before I meet the Good Lord."

Helen is survived by her three nieces, Kathy Zarilla (Doug Darr) of Timberlake, North Carolina, Nancy Zarilla of Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and Lauri Zarilla of Murrysville, Pennsylvania; great-niece Rachel Darr of Charlotte, North Carolina; great-nephew Benjamin Darr of Charlotte, North Carolina; and numerous friends and caretakers that she considered family.

A memorial Mass and reception will be held at St. Paul Catholic Center, Bloomington, on Thursday, March 9, 2017, at 11 a.m. Friends may visit the family on Wednesday at the Day & Deremiah-Frye Funeral Home, 4150 E. Third St; Bloomington, IN, from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Burial will be at a later date in New Castle, Pennsylvania. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to some of her favorite charities, including WonderLab, Habitat for Humanity or St. Paul Catholic Center.