Janet “Jan” Frances Halas Gibson was born at her parents’ house in the village of Mill Plain outside of Danbury, CT in the midst of the Great Depression. She was the youngest of two children born to James F. and Ruth Elizabeth (Burnie) Halas. Some of her childhood memories were collecting sap in buckets for making maple syrup, sounds of steam locomotives traveling the nearby railroad tracks, serving food and drink to the troops convoying to fight in World War II, church bells ringing to remind everyone to blackout windows at night during the war, and experiencing the world famous singer, Marian Anderson, who lived down the road on a nearby farm in Danbury.
Later during the war her father moved the family to the Wilmington, DE area to work in the shipyards in support of the war effort. Jan’s mother tragically passed away from an illness when she was only 10 years old. Jan lived with her grandparents and other relatives for some time until her father remarried and her family was reunited. Martha (Krzywosinski) Halas became her beloved new mother who, along with Martha’s two daughters, remained close to Jan for the rest of their lives.
She attended a one-room schoolhouse in Danbury, then local parochial schools in Wilmington and graduated from Conrad High School, Class of 1951. Upon graduation, she started work for Diamond State Telephone Company where she remained for nearly a decade. Later, after raising her children through early childhood, Jan reentered the workforce becoming an Admissions Clerk at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital where she worked for over twenty years before retiring in 1995.
She met John “Jack” Francis Gibson at a party in 1954, who boldly declared on their first date that he was going to marry her… he must have immediately known what a great catch she was! In May 1956, they were married as he had declared. They spent the next 59 years together and raised their family of four children, seven grandchildren and, as of Jan’s passing, one great-grandchild.
In the early 1960’s, Jan and Jack relocated to Sussex County, DE for what they believed was going to be a one-year assignment for Jack at the DuPont Nylon Plant in Seaford. Once they realized that the Dupont assignment had the promise of being long-term, they scrimped, saved and labored to build the rural Seaford home where she and Jack raised their family and lived for the rest of their lives.
Jan was first and foremost a caring mother and wife. She was proud of her family and gave them unconditional love, support and acceptance and her offsprings’ friends and spouses received the same treatment. She spent most of her days watching over her kids and grandkids and she spent hundreds of evenings and weekends throughout her life attending their various athletic events. She especially enjoyed spending her time with and doting over each newborn/toddler that came along. She was Jack’s loving caregiver throughout his battle with Parkinson’s Disease until he passed away in 2015. In these past few years she remarked how much she looked forward to joining him in Heaven.
Jan easily made friends; she was dependable; she kept an extraordinarily clean and uncluttered house; she was unpretentious but never left her home unless she was “put together” with manicured nails, makeup and hair, and a “matching outfit”; she was frugal but had a penchant for QVC and HSN; she loved cats and kept many; she was a bit of a leadfoot but never got a speeding ticket (at least that she admitted to), she would occasionally indulge in an “Old Fashioned” cocktail or a Margarita; she was known to unknowingly mispronounce names and words to the amusement of her family; she had a stubborn streak; and she could get snarky if prompted.
She was a parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Seaford for nearly sixty years. She volunteered at the church and was an active member of the Nanticoke Senior Center Seaford Acorn Club and local Red Hat Society. She was a poll worker in many elections and, after retirement, worked periodically as a substitute teacher and teaching assistant in the Seaford Schools.
She was predeceased by her parents, husband and sisters Dorothy Maney and Irene Zizza.
She is survived by her brother, James Halas of Greenville, IN; son Sean, his former wife, Sharon (Fiori) of League City, TX and their son Zack of Corpus Cristi, TX; son Eric, his wife, Candace and their two daughters Marissa and Rylyn of San Diego, CA; daughter Sharon Parker, her former husband, Ben and their children Derrik Gibson and Madison Parker (and Derrik’s daughter and Jan’s great-granddaughter Genevieve) of Seaford, DE, and daughter Shana Bredbenner, her husband, Clint and their sons Josh and Ty of Seaford, DE.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, July 1, at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 532 E. Stein Hwy, Seaford, DE. Rev. Steven B. Giuliano, Pastor will officiate. A visitation will also take place on Wednesday, June 30, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Cranston Funeral Home, 300 N. Shipley St., Seaford, DE. Burial will be in Our Lady of Lourdes Cementery.
Donations in Jan’s memory can be made to Brandywine Valley SPCA, 22918 Dupont Blvd., Georgetown, DE 19947 bvspca.org
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