Our lovely mother, known to all as Marge, passed quietly away on November 13, 2020, at the age of 92, with two of her daughters at her side and in the hearts of all who knew her.
She was born on August 19, 1928, to John and Jenny (Mary Anna Wassmuth) Uhlenkott, in Keuterville, Idaho, where she spent the first 18 years of her life.
After graduating as valedictorian from St. Gertrude‘s Academy, she moved to Spokane, Wash., where she attended Kinman Business University and lived at the Isabella Club, a residence for young single women. After completing her education, Marge was employed as a secretary by Hollenback Piano Co. When looking back, she often said that she liked her secretarial course, loved living at the Isabella Club and was very happy in her job with Hollenback.
During that time, she met Maurice Gibbons, a credit manager for Van Waters and Rogers. They found they had a great deal in common, including their Catholic faith, enjoyment of western dancing and playing bridge with their close friends.
They married in 1948, bought a house on the Northside of Spokane, joined St. Francis Xavier Parish, and got started on the big family that Marge had always wanted. Sadly, Maury died in 1960, leaving Marge a widow with eight children, the youngest only three months of age.
Eventually, Marge‘s friends urged her to join the Catholic Social Club. There she met handsome Josip “Joe” Ivanis, a Bosnian Croat from Yugoslavia, who immigrated to the United States in 1956 and worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad. They married in 1962 and soon added three more babies to the family, making a total of 11 children.
These were incredibly busy years for Marge. Her days were filled with managing her household and caring for her large family, yet she still found time to be of service to others. She was a Cub Scout den mother, a Bluebird and Camp Fire leader, and active in the PTA and her parish.
Around the time her youngest was finishing high school, Marge re-joined the workforce as Alumni Coordinator for Gonzaga Prep, a job perfectly suited to her energy and organizational skills. She enjoyed working in the Catholic setting and for her supervisor, Fr. Robert. Goebel. Over the next decade she produced regular alumni newsletters, supervised volunteer work parties and coordinated with class representatives to plan dozens of reunion gatherings.
Marge and Joe enjoyed travel. They journeyed by train to destinations all over the United States and went on cruises to Alaska, the Caribbean, and through the Panama Canal. They also visited Hawaii several times. The highlight of their travels was a trip to Yugoslavia in 1990, where Joe was reunited with his family for the first time since WWII. After Joe passed away in 1997, Marge continued to go on cruises and vacations in Mexico and Hawaii with her children and their families.
She had a “can-do“ attitude and accomplished amazing things without a fuss. Over the years she headed numerous committees and took on many leadership roles in her parish, including with the Altar Society, St Cecilia’s Guild, Service League, and Parish Council. Later she worked with the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women and the Saint Vincent de Paul Society. She was also proud to be one of the “Marthas,” who regularly cleaned Immaculate Heart Retreat House. During her retirement years, she volunteered as a polling place worker for every election and joined a diocesan quilting group to make warm comforters for the poor of Spokane.
She was a wonderful mother and took the job of parenting seriously. She had high expectations of her children and made sure that they were able to attend college or train for the career of their choice. Marge also had a deep and abiding faith that sustained her and brought her peace in difficult times. Gracious, thoughtful and kind, she was a lady through and through.
Marge was pre-deceased by her husbands, Maurice Gibbons and Josip Ivanis, her brother, Urban Uhlenkott, and son, Tom Gibbons, his wife Sandy, and son-in-law Arnold Schellenberg.
She is survived by her children, Paula (Steve) Gibbons, Donald “Otis “ Gibbons, Gwen Schellenberg, Karla (Ron) Gibbons, Edward Gibbons, David Gibbons, Mark (Cheryl) Gibbons, Dan (Nina) Ivanis, Barbara (William) Miner, and Karen (Will) Ivanis-Rogers. She also leaves behind 20 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
The family suggests memorial donations may be made in Marge’s name to Gonzaga Preparatory School, Spokane, or The Monastery of St. Gertrude In Cottonwood, Idaho.
A private family service will be held November 24 with interment to follow at Holy Cross Cemetery.
Condolences and memories may be shared on line at hennesseyfuneralhomes.com or in the guestbook at www.spokesman.com.
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