Joan Bernardine Beasley Gibala, a longtime Beltsville resident, passed away peacefully at her home on August 1, 2021, just a few weeks after learning of a cancer diagnosis.
Born in 1943, Joan was raised in Washington, D.C. She graduated from Anacostia High School and completed higher education at Keene State College in Keene, NH, where she spent summers with her beloved grandparents. In winter months, automobile ice racing was a favorite pastime. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.
Joan met her future husband at Bolling Air Force Base where he was stationed. After he was transferred to Okinawa, Japan, just a couple months after marrying, Joan joined him, pregnant with their daughter, Susan. Upon returning to the United States, they established residence in Beltsville, where she remained in her forever home, fondly referring to her community as “Old Beltsville.”
Joan was extremely active in and committed to the Parent Teacher Organization of Chestnut Hills Elementary School earning Volunteer of the Year in 1973. She fully supported her daughter’s interests with the Beltsville majorettes, Brownies and Girl Scouts and High Point High School Band.
After years as a devoted mother and homemaker, Joan accepted a position with Prince George’s Family Service, assisting citizens of the county in receiving adequate care, services, and access to resources. It was very important to her to be of service to people. Subsequently, she shifted her career to the American Association of Retired Persons (A.A.R.P.) focused on Widowed Persons Services as well as input into company’s web design. Because of her knowledge, she was able to guide and assist many people who were facing difficult times. Here she was a respected and integral part of the team and received awards for her work.
Joan’s hobbies included gardening, evident in her beautifully landscaped yard; she loved her pets, raising her affectionate dogs Frisky, Casey and Lucy and cat, Callie. As a Friend of the National Zoo, she thoroughly enjoyed all the animals with a special fondness for tigers. She was able to hold baby tigers and had a wonderful private tour with the tigers of the zoo. Joan was a world traveler, traveling to all continents and her home was decorated in photographs of her amazing experiences. She was a voracious reader, reading almost a book a day in her retirement. She also was an avid genealogy researcher, tracing her family roots back to the Mayflower. Ultimately, however, being with her family was her favorite way to spend her time. Joan was a wonderful mother and she adored her grandson, Evan, teaching him to fish at an early age during annual summer vacations at Lake Anna.
Joan’s Catholic faith was extremely important to her attending St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church. She has served in their food pantry and assisted at the Christmas Bazaar..
Joan Gibala is predeceased by her parents, Agnes and Francis Beasley, as well as her sister, Linda Zervas. She leaves behind her loving daughter, Susan D. Gibala of Haymarket, VA and her beloved grandson, Evan C. Gibala of Lexington, KY.
A memorial service was held on August 5, 2021 at Borgwardt’s Funeral Home in Beltsville, MD.