For Black History Month, the AFRO presents a series of articles highlighting important local heroes from the paper’s archives. This week, the obituary of the Rev. Mrs. Nannie Gibbs, a community leader from the Cherry Hill neighborhood of Baltimore.

Rev. Mrs. Nannie Gibbs

Funeral services were held Thursday at Enon Baptist Church for the Rev. Mrs. Nannie Wiley Gibbs, 80, 2649 Round Rd., Cherry Hill.

She died Saturday at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

The Rev. Mrs. Gibbs was prominent in Cherry Hill political circles for 15 years. She was also widely known as a civic, community and church leader.

A baptist minister since 1943, she was a member of the Enon Baptist Church for more than half a century.

She came to Baltimore from Philadelphia under the watch-care of the Enon Church in 1905, and shortly afterwards became a full member.

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In a 1958 interview with the AFRO, Mrs. Gibbs said: “I’ll keep on going as long as I can. I’ll retire when the grave does it for me.”

Speaking about her church work she noted, “I’m mostly a prayerman, not too much of a preacher. I usually offer the opening prayer for many meeting out here (in Cherry Hill).”

Born in June, 1880, the Rev. Mrs. Gibbs was the daughter of the late Phil and Laura Wiley. Her occupation was that of a chef cook and she was known for her dishes from Canada to Florida.

On Dec. 7, 1907, she was married to the late Edward Gibbs, a musician. Her daughter, Ruth Gretchen Gibbs, died in infancy. Her son, Wilbur Edward Gibbs, a Merchant Marine, died when the Mormackite sunk off the coast of Cape Hataras in Oct., 1954.

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Although tragedy seemed to stalk her life, the Rev. Mrs. Gibbs found time to aid others. She became the first president of the Domestic Workers Union, CIO, the first union of its kind in America.

She was a life member of the National Council of Colored Women, she was instrumental in establishing a metropolitan chapter of the Council in Cherry Hill. Mrs. Verda Welcome, at that time regional director, was associated with her in this endeavor.

Under the sponsorship of Mrs. Victorine Adams, the Rev. Mrs. Gibbs, organized the Cherry Hill Women’s Democratic Club.

She was also a member of the Cherry Hill Protective Association, the Coordinating Council of Cherry Hill and chairman of the Women’s Auxiliary of Cherry Hill.

This latter group sent boxes of clothing to the war – torn areas during World War II.

She also sponsored the organization’s collection of clothing for destitute Koreans in Dec., 1951.

Her group of women is also affiliated with the Maryland League of Women’s Clubs.

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Always prepared to arouse neighbors to a sense of civic duty, the Rev. Mrs. Gibbs was active in urging them to go to church, beautify their homes and become registered voters.

She was active in the AFRO Clean Block Campaign.

Although she had been ill since July and bedridden two weeks before her death, she continued to work by writing letters to political leaders, workers and presidential candidates.

            As the result of her persistent work, three Cherry Hill precincts have colored officials. Through her efforts, two congressmen provided scholarships for Cherry Hill students.

At the Enon Church, the Rev. Mrs. Gibbs was a member of the Missionary Society.

Surviving are a sister, Mrs. Mandy Cousins, a nephew, Johnny Cousins, and other relatives of Burksville, Va.