Jill Marguerite Gibson passed away peacefully July 5, 2022, while surrounded by her family. Born Sept. 30, 1944, to William and Helen (Miller) Vorheis in Santa Clara, Calif., she was the oldest of two children.
The family moved to San Francisco where she lived through early adulthood. Jill worked at Levi-Strauss, a job she was very proud of, until she felt called to the mysterious mountain town of Taos where she worked various construction jobs on the Flag Crew, and where she met her husband John Gibson. The couple was married in 1970 and eventually moved to Tres Piedras, N.M.
Jill became a homemaker and tended to various animals on their small farm. She relished being surrounded by animals. The children helped collect eggs, feed the sheep, goats, pigs, and the occasional wild duck. She did not relish occasionally coming home and to find goats in the house, causing her to shoo them out of the house in a blind rage while attempting to load a single shot .22 caliber rifle as the children tried to scurry the goats to safety or posed as human shields.
A talented artist and cook, Jill fell in love with the food of northern New Mexico and diligently learned the ways of the world’s best cuisine (That’s right, suck it Colorado!) while making sure beans, chile, and tortillas were always at the ready for her family. As an artist, she learned beadwork and sold necklaces and earrings at craft fairs, shops and restaurant displays, and occasionally giving them to her sons’ girlfriends as free advertising. Later, she became involved in paper-casting and worked with various artists in the Taos area, turning their works into a two-dimensional medium of their paintings.
In the mid 80s she became a licensed hairstylist, experimenting with her daughter’s beautiful hair with perms. She made sure her sons stayed in the forefront of style with the latest chic mullet to send the message that they were all business in the front but also partied in the back. It was the 80s so there was no such thing as a bad haircut!
Taught by her grandmother as a child, Jill loved crocheting and became a master, making everything from baby clothes to stuffed animals. She even once made her sons crocheted sweaters in the colors of their favorite NFL team while their friends got actual jerseys, but that’s okay — their friends thought they had cool sweaters!
A dedicated parent to the extreme, Jill fostered the mindset of finishing what one started, all by leading by example making sure each child made every practice, game, concert, no matter what insane hour in the morning or late the return. Not afraid to voice her opinion to her children’s coaches, she was quick to remind them that even though they were the coach, she was the agent that held the contract.
Jill surrounded herself with an eclectic group of friends, occasionally taking in the stray artist or storyteller embodying the notion that you learn the most by doing strange things with weird people. As an avid reader she loved discussing and debating books with her children with the staunch message that if you don’t read the “Pale Horse of Stupid” will come for you sooner rather than later.
Nature had a strong calling and she loved being outside. Whether it was camping, picking piñon, searching for wild berries, or gardening, she used it as a platform to educate her children outside the classroom, repeating the phrase “A child who is only educated in school, is an uneducated child.”
Many family weekends were spent at the John Dunn Bridge in the Rio Grande Gorge where, with the rest of the feral youth of Taos County, she repeatedly jumped off the bridge into the cool summer waters of the Rio Grande. Motivated by the acceptance of the young John Dunn bridge-jumping culture, she resorted to taunting her children, calling them chickens, wimps, and pansies until they reluctantly jumped off the bridge to get initiated. This later turned into a family addiction to bridge jumping. “Your mom is crazy, bro!” Seemed to be the winning phrase of those days.
A believer in the notion that it takes a village to raise a child, Jill embraced the friends of her children, many times acting as surrogate parent who was willing to sit down and listen, have a meal, and occasionally even provide a place to live. As her children and their friends occasionally would come home way past the typical bedtime she would come out of her bedroom and say, “There’s beans and chile in fridge,” it was her cryptic message for ‘there is shelter and safety here’… no questions asked because, you know, no questions should be asked after two in the morning, anyway.
As Jill passed, surrounded by her three children, they received one last good-spirited scolding, making sure she got the last word with her straight-forward approach to humor — she left her children with one final pearl of wisdom: “If you can’t laugh at dying, then maybe you shouldn’t die.” She said some other stuff too, but this is not the place for those words.
Keep laughing, mom.
Jill is preceded in death by her husband John Gibson, parents William Vorheis and Helen MacMillan, and survived by her brother Tsogtor, children Donovan (Jenna) Gibson of Jamestown, North Dakota, Kristy (Jason) Rice of Cerro, New Mexico, Jon Gibson of Albuquerque, New Mexico and grandchildren, Gavin, Kendra, Logan, Zach, Mason, Jayden, Elijah, and Rowan.
She requested that her remains be scattered at Hopewell Lake with her husband, which will take place at a later date with close friends and family. In lieu of flowers the family kindly request donations to the Questa Public Library so the aforementioned “Pale Horse of Stupid” comes for as few as possible.