On Wednesday, March 3, Dana Gibson died from a lung an infection on the age of 96. She was finest identified in Santa Cruz because the founding exercise director for the Cabrillo School Stroke Middle, but in her self-deprecating fashion she referred to as herself the Play Woman, making life enjoyable for her college students, even when coping with incapacity. The concepts she employed have been drawn from a lifetime of expertise.
Her mom was Hope S. Potter, who, in an April Idiot’s Day blizzard in 1924, was headed for a hilltop hospital to provide delivery. The driving ability of Hope’s sister-in-law, Mona Belle, made them the final to succeed in the hospital earlier than the street was closed. So that they named the child “Mona Belle” in her honor (though later often called Dana). She was a small child, so in addition they nick-named her “Teensy Babe,” and a few referred to as her “Teense” for the remainder of her life.
Teense misplaced a part of her listening to to Scarlet Fever as a toddler. Throughout laborious occasions, the household lived with relations in Watertown, Massachusetts. Then in 1929, her father Poppy obtained a job with Louis Blaustein at AMOCO Oil in Baltimore, they usually purchased a house within the suburb of Owings Mills.
Their subsequent door neighbors have been the mother and father of comedic stage and display screen actress Mildred Natwick. Hopie labored for the Maryland Division of Schooling, specializing in downside boys from poor neighborhoods, establishing grownup education schemes for his or her mother and father, and finally founding Highwood Various Faculty for Boys.
When Teense was 10 in 1934, her Downs Syndrome brother Louie Jr. was born. Teense turned his chief caretaker, and with Hopie, helped Louie create routines, and even learn. Teense’s godparents gave her a scholarship to Hannah Moore Academy up by way of highschool. Her unique class was solely three college students, however they turned life-long buddies. This included piano prodigy Maude Corridor (Fleuchere), who entered the Peabody Institute at age 11.
World Conflict II
World Conflict II was particularly nerve-racking in Baltimore, a port metropolis with German-submarine sightings. Though Episcopal, the Potter’s had a detailed circle of Jewish buddies from Johns Hopkins Hospital. Teense was additionally buddies with a boy and woman down the block, whose father was pro-Hitler regardless of his children’ disapproval. At some point she noticed the youngsters leaving with tears of their eyes, as a result of their father was taking them to stay in Nazi Germany.
After commencement in 1942, Teense obtained a job in a publishing home as a proof-reader for medical books. She designed some e book jackets, and wrote articles for the corporate publication, which attracted the eye of Bernard Springer, operating the German-language publishing division.
When he turned a German translator for the U.S. Military, Springer skilled Teense to design and illustrate direct-mail e book advertising campaigns, giving her his non-public workplace and secretary whereas he was gone. She additionally proof-read authorities secret codes for accuracy (with out understanding their that means). At some point she caught a pleasant couple making an attempt to enter the publishing home on another person’s password, they usually turned out to be Nazi spies. When Mr. Springer reclaimed his job, Teense seemed for a brand new place.
Via Hopie’s Johns Hopkins connections, Teense obtained a job with Dr. Helen Taussig, well-known for locating the reason for Blue Child Syndrome, and performing the world’s first coronary heart operations. Teense and Sallie Howe have been employed to assist 100 rheumatic fever youngsters get better by way of in-home bedrest. This was outreach to poor Black and white neighborhoods that lacked entry to convalescent hospitals. Dana helped begin the “Keep-In-Mattress Membership,” with crafts and actions to maintain the youngsters entertained in mattress. On the finish of this system, the youngsters obtained collectively for a celebration. The Baltimore Solar lined it, and on Dana’s insistence, included a rarely-allowed photograph exhibiting Black and white youngsters collectively.
When the warfare ended, Teense and a good friend determined to see america by bus. She modified her title to Dana Potter, to determine her personal identification. Once they obtained to San Francisco, Dana felt for the primary time she was dwelling, so she offered the opposite half of the round-trip ticket. Shirley Beneke was a good friend at her boarding home, and took her on a visit to Santa Cruz, the place they determined to develop into companions in a florist store on Ocean Road. Dana’s mother and father moved to a Westside dwelling in 1949 to be close to her. Dana met a good-looking ex.-G.I. named Invoice Gibson, and their mutual love of books led to a love for one another. They married, and lived in Capitola, the place that they had two children, myself in 1955, and my sister Kati in 1957.
Throughout World Conflict II, Invoice had been one of many few survivors of a German prisoner of warfare camp, and his want to assist individuals stemmed from his personal publish traumatic stress dysfunction. With Dana’s encouragement, he turned a Methodist Minister, and the household lived in small cities throughout Northern California, from the coast, to the central valley, to the Sierra foothills.
I obtained polio in 1964 after I was 9-years-old, and needed to be home-schooled by Dana for a 12 months. It was our personal Keep-In-Mattress Membership, with artwork, historical past, and a narrative learn aloud by her or dad. Dana was the city’s librarian, but I’d been a poor reader. Dana’s answer was a e book of Columbia Theater Radio Performs, dividing-up the components between us. I had a lot enjoyable hamming it up studying my components, that I began writing performs, which improved my studying and writing. Dana served as Cub Scout den mom, and later a Brownie counselor for my sister’s scouting group.
I returned to Santa Cruz in 1973 to handle my grandmother and Downs Syndrome uncle whereas going to varsity. When Invoice retired, he and Dana returned to city in 1974 and lived at Neary Lagoon. Dana went again to varsity, whereas doing odd-jobs like Skeerole on the Boardwalk, evening nurse for Alice Earl Wilder, and in 1975 turned recreation therapist at Batterson’s Convalescent Hospital on Matison Lane in Capitola. Her senior thesis instructed the story of these dwelling at Batterson’s, whereas her grasp’s thesis gave the therapeutic worth of the Kazoo. She graduated in 1978, with a barefoot William Everson reciting poetry underneath a veil of cleaning soap bubbles. This was the identical 12 months her marriage ended, though amicably.
The Cabrillo School Stroke Middle had simply moved to De Laveaga Park in 1976, and Edie Nelson employed Dana because the Stroke Middle’s founding Exercise Director quickly after. However Cabrillo closed it down in 1978, fearing state regulation threatened non-credit lessons. Edie labored to rework the lessons into an instructional curriculum, and with the assistance of Senator Harry Mello, and protesters in wheel chairs and crutches on the state capital, the Stroke Middle was saved.
Registering as college students as a substitute of sufferers was a lift to shallowness, because it put the disabled accountable for their very own development, which required a willingness to behave. The aim was to not regain full-function if this was now not doable, however to seek out different means to perform desired capabilities. These have been college students at a crisis-point of their lives, typically withdrawn and depressed, and it was Dana’s job to make life value dwelling. She organized a kazoo band referred to as the “Humdingers.”
She discovered that individuals who had misplaced their speech or singing voice, might nonetheless hum, which helped them take part. Additional, it inspired deep respiratory. There have been seated “Dancercize” actions, and tossing the bean bag to one another, whereas mentioning the title of the individual you toss to. This pressured individuals to talk, even with restricted verbal skill. Board video games requires gamers to comply with the motion, hold rating, manipulate sport items and communicate throughout every flip.
As a former florist, Dana cherished working in backyard soil. So her “Adaptive Gardening” class had raised beds, the place college students might pot vegetation, sculpt bonsai bushes, and create objects they might promote to lift cash for subject journeys. They even put in a backyard sales space annually on the County Truthful. Working with golf professional Gary Loustalot, they created the “Adaptive Golf” class, permitting college students to putt both sitting with a brief membership, or one handed with wrist straps.
Individuals who feared their incapacity was an isolating issue, discovered themselves in a program on the forefront of life. Clergy from most native church buildings got here to debate their very own religion and reply questions in Dana’s comparative faith class. Native and state politicians would come to debate or clarify political points and packages. Dana’s subject journeys have been adventures in themselves, giving individuals confidence that their limitations didn’t exclude dwelling life to the fullest.
Extra than simply lessons, this was life-changing, and a profound bonding expertise that created lifelong friendships. Many who graduated from the two-year program would come again to work underneath Dana, who was director of volunteers, and held a well-liked year-end Volunteers Vacation Celebration. In 1985, these wishing a continuation and main-streaming program joined Dana and the Stroke Membership in create the VIVA Program (that means Very important Values), by way of Watsonville Grownup Faculty, and later branches in Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz. Dana additionally taught Recreation Therapist Certification Courses for the state of California.
In 2000, she raised probably the most cash for the Stroke Middle, successful a two-week journey to Paris and Northern France. On Nov. 21, 1991, and once more on Nov. 17, 2004, it was proclaimed “Dana Gibson Day” by the cities of Santa Cruz and Watsonville, within the County, and by the state Senate and Legislature. Then in 2007, 83-year-old Dana obtained macular degeneration in each eyes, and the operation solely left some peripheral imaginative and prescient. This additionally destroyed her listening to, as she had been unaware how a lot she relied on lip-reading to compensate for partial deafness. She reluctantly retired, simply earlier than the Stroke Middle moved to the Cabrillo campus in Aptos. However the VIVA program didn’t survive her retirement.
I cared for her in her later years, as she went from a cane to a wheel chair. However to the tip, she was playful, with a child-like curiosity in studying new issues, studying audio books, following present occasions, and cracking jokes. She was all the time “Ginger Peachy,” even when she was down, and her oft-repeated phrase was: “I’m joyful to be alive!”
Ross Eric Gibson is a former historical past columnist for the San Jose Mercury Information and Santa Cruz Sentinel.