Many Chillicotheans recalled fond memories of the woman who taught them the basic building blocks of their school years.

Chillicothe’s first kindergarten teacher, Bette (Weber) Gibbs, died July 19.


Many Chillicotheans recalled fond memories of the woman who taught them the basic building blocks of their school years.
Chillicothe’s first kindergarten teacher, Bette (Weber) Gibbs, died July 19.

Her kindness and gentleness for those in their formative years are what many residents said they remember about their first teacher.

“She’s probably been one of the more dedicated teachers in kindergarten and first grade that I’ve ever met,” said Jim Thornton, retired superintendent.

He recalled a humorous story about the well-loved teacher.

“On the way to work, I saw this person standing by a car with a flat tire. The person was dressed as a witch. It was Bette. She had had a flat tire on the way to school,” said Thornton.

“I pulled up and I just had to laugh at her. I can’t remember if I fixed her tire or not, but I gave her a ride to school.

“It was typical of Bette and how she loved her kids and did whatever was necessary for her kids. She had her broom, too.

“This was the one time she couldn’t ride her broom to work,” he joked.

Her students also remember her dressing as a witch for Halloween.

Judy Gray was one of Gibbs’ first students in the morning kindergarten class.

“Just being with her was special. She just loved people — big people, little people, it didn’t matter,” said Gray about both children and adults.

The children said nursery rhymes, played finger games and Gibbs even knew how to keep their clay — not PlayDoh, but real clay —
moist by setting it on the air register at Pearce School, now Pearce Community Center.

No matter if children were in the morning or afternoon class, a nap was planned.

“We had to have a mat to take a nap,” said Gray.

Repetition is something Gibbs had down pat.

Gray observed Gibbs in class at North School (now Chillicothe Bible Church) when she was in school to become a teacher.

“I asked her, ‘Don’t you get tired of saying the same thing over and over?’”

“Oh, no,” replied Gibbs.

With an energetic spirit, it should not come as a surprise that she liked to dance, and met her husband, Wayne, at The Hub Ballroom in Edelstein.

She taught children for 43 years and retired in 1984.

“She had a big influence on all of us in the early years,” said Dianne Colwell, who had Gibbs in her second year of teaching, then known as Miss Weber. “She was kind but would get after you.”

Years later, she went on to be a face residents saw involved in the Red Hat Society and the Chillicothe Historical Society.

She was no stranger to Pearce Community Center either, joining as a charter member.

They later dedicated her former classroom to her, which at the time was used for the Pearce Seniors.

She was laid to rest Friday in Chillicothe City Cemetery.

The night before, family and friends gathered for the visitation at Weber-Hurd Funeral Home, the place Gibbs grew up and the family business.

“Bette was one of those people you remember ... She would do anything for her kids. She loved every one of the them,” said Thornton.