Margaret Alice Gibas was born on Sept. 2 1939, to Edward and Alice Wenzel in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin. After a rural childhood on the family farm along with her brothers, Marcus and Douglas Wenzel, Margaret’s curiosity about the wider world led her to work her way through University of Wisconsin as a nanny and waitress. That is where she met Gene Gibas, who she married in 1963. After a brief stint on the east coast for Gene’s first job, they returned to Wisconsin and in 1970, settled in Appleton. Margaret held a number of jobs while raising her two daughters, Cynthia and Jennifer. She owned an educational toy store called the Learning Shop, then sold it and worked as an administrative assistant at Planned Parenthood and the Housing Partnership, among others. Margaret really enjoyed the community activities that make up life in Appleton. She and Gene were lifelong members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and their minds thrived on its book club and Symposium series. Many treasured friends came to them through UU activities. She also loved the artistic life of her town, and for as long as they were able, Margaret and Gene would attend concerts and plays at Lawrence University. After retirement, they spent several delightful years being snowbirds in Arizona, and Margaret adored walking her cats on a leash through this new landscape. They created many good memories exploring Arizona and northern Mexico on their own and with friends from Appleton who would come to visit. During these years she also tutored recent immigrants in English. She kept in touch with at least one over the years and was happy to see that family thrive in a new country. When Gene became ill with Parkinson’s disease, those travels had to end, and Margaret put in a heroic 8 years caring for him during his decline, even though she was ill with cancer herself. A robust group of friends supported her through that time, and they really meant the world to her. Margaret always had a talent for drawing and painting, and just in the last couple of years, she took up watercolor painting classes at the Appleton Senior Center and really enjoyed the new friends she made there. The cancer finally caught up with her on Sunday June 18, 2023. She died in her home with her daughters at her side.
We wish to thank the staff of Moments Hospice and Synergy home care, as well as death doula Mellissa Hansen, who all did a fantastic job in easing Margaret’s last days.
Margaret is survived by two daughters, Cynthia Gibas of Charlotte, NC; Jennifer Gibas and son-in-law Jaime Morales of Urbana, IL; Brother and sister-in-law Marcus and Sharon Wenzel; Brother Douglas Wenzel; three nephews, Wayne, Troy and John Wenzel; and three nieces, Julietta, Dana and Amanda Wenzel.
She did not wish to have a funeral. If you wish to honor Margaret, I think the very best way is to go out to lunch, chat with your friends and raise a glass to her. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the charity of your choice. Some of Mom’s favorites were Planned Parenthood and the Fox Valley Humane Association.