Many Detroit residents know well two of the city’s landmarks: the Fisher Building, topped by its “golden tower,” and the Fox Theater. Sister Betty Gibbons’ father had a key role in both buildings’ construction.
“My father, Eugene Joseph Gibbons, was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1905,” her autobiography begins. “He graduated from the University of Detroit with a degree in Civil Engineering and was the managing engineer during the construction of the Fisher Building and Fox Theater in Detroit. A year later this engineering company closed due to the Depression.”
Elizabeth Gibbons, always known as Betty, was born in Mount Clemens, Michigan, on November 26, 1936, to Eugene and Marie (Baribault) Gibbons. Marie was born in France in 1906, but after her mother died when Marie was just three years old, her father, Betty’s grandfather, sent the children to live with relatives in Quebec, Canada. He eventually followed, and the family came to Detroit when Marie was fifteen. She and Eugene married in 1929, just before the Great Depression hit.
After the Depression cost Eugene his engineering job, he went to work for Sears, Roebuck and Company, and when he was promoted to management the family moved to the Chicago area, where the company’s headquarters was. By that time, Betty had two younger siblings: Eugene Louis and Marilyn, known as “Mickey.” Another sister, Claire, was born in Oak Park, Illinois.
Read more about Sister Elizabeth (pdf)
Memorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.
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