June 29, 1938 – December 28, 2022
Shirley Ann Gibula, 84, of Lakeland, Florida passed away peacefully in her home on Wednesday, December 28, 2022. She was surrounded by her family and loved ones.
When Shirley was a young girl growing up in southern Illinois, she dreamed of becoming a missionary. But after moving to Chicago, she met her husband John, fell in love, and began her beautiful family life. They lived for many years in the Chicago area raising their three daughters in Alsip and Blue Island, IL.
Shirley found her calling in childcare and earned a college degree that allowed her to purchase and operate her own daycare center. Small Fry Day Care and Kindergarten in Blue Island, IL was her passion for many years. She worked tirelessly to provide excellent care to children and families with a Christian atmosphere. Her kind heart and beautiful manner was often remembered by children who returned to the school years after graduation to stop in and say hello to “Mrs. G”.
Her greatest desire in life was to share herself and her faith. She spent years going to nursing homes and even arranged children volunteers to sing and present hundreds of small Easter baskets and other holiday gifts to the sick and lonely. She brought light to any room she entered and held a special place in her heart for the downtrodden.
She did all things out of kindness and love and with a twinkle in her beautiful blue eyes. She donated much of herself and support to her beloved church, Restoration Fellowship Church of Lakeland, FL. She was previously a long-time member of the Church of the Nazarene in Crestwood, IL and Lakeland, FL. She enjoyed volunteering with the church, creating bulletin boards, and working in the angel pantry.
Shirley especially loved the old hymns, and we were all blessed to have a dear friend sing to her before she passed. But one of her favorite contemporary songs was “I Can Only Imagine.” She loved the lyrics and the movie. And now her day has come and she no longer has to imagine what it is like to be by her Savior’s side. She no longer has to imagine standing in the “Son” and singing hallelujah and forever worshiping.
Shirley spent nearly 30 years of retirement with her husband in their beautiful lakeside home. She loved her exotic garden and beautiful palm trees. Her home held a legacy of love and was filled with hand sewn comforters, angels, crosses, bibles, many books and, of course, Elvis paraphernalia!
Most of all, Shirley cherished her grandchildren. She loved spending month-long visits with them at her home during the summer. They have fond memories of swimming in her pool, doing arts and crafts that she meticulously planned for them, going to vacation bible school, and all the fun Florida theme parks. She had a special bond with each of her grandchildren that will be forever cherished.
Shirley was a blessing to anyone she met, and she never met a stranger. Her legacy of love continues in her family. She will be deeply missed and forever remembered.
Shirley is survived by her three daughters, Cynthia Ann (Phil) Hartz of Orland Park, IL, Deborah Lynn (Mark) Schaefer of Elmhurst, IL and Deena Renee Kurdas of Lakeland, FL; grandchildren, Rachel (Jared) Sandberg, Jacquelyn (Alex) Selvey, Morgan Hartz, Samantha Kurdas, Ryan Schaefer and Brandon Schaefer; sisters, Louise Paskon of Rosiclare, IL and Audrey Martin of Eldorado, IL; and brother, Bill Stacey of Lakeland, FL.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 60 years, John Gibula; parents, Charlotte and William Stacey and siblings, Wilma Killian Highfill, Frances Kelley, Joseph Stacey; and her granddaughter, Joy Angel Schaefer.
Services were privately held at her home in Lakeland. In Lieu of flowers donations can be made to Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
To purchase flowers and gifts locally, visit www.RosiclareFlowerBasket.net .