A shining light went out on earth April 28, 2021, but the night skies will be brighter forever more. JoAnn Bohn Gibbons-Martin, of Terre Haute, passed away peacefully at her home surrounded by her loved ones.
Born to Frank and Ann Bohn on January 5, 1932, in Terre Haute, Indiana, JoAnn was the spunky, energetic sister of Bill Bohn. Raised in Terre Haute, she was known to all for her vivacious, outgoing demeanor.
JoAnn wed her high school sweetheart, Paul Harold Gibbons, on June 25, 1954, at Central Christian Church. During more than 34 years of loving marriage, they raised their four children in the home she and Paul designed themselves, built by Paul himself for his new bride and their future family: Paul Kevin, Kraig Alan, Karen Ann, and Paula Kay. Theirs was a busy family, but they never missed an opportunity to instill in their children their passion for creative expression or their love of the arts—a heritage since passed on to their children’s children.
After JoAnn graduated from Garfield High School in 1950, she went on to Indiana State Teacher’s College, where she earned her teaching degree in 1954. At ISTC, JoAnn joined Kappa Kappa, later known as Alpha Omicron Pi. In the years after she served as the founding president of ISTC’s AOTT chapter in 1953, JoAnn’s enthusiasm for AOTT only grew, and under her tutelage it became one of Indiana State’s top sororities.
Over the years, JoAnn held a full range of offices in AOTT, continuing with a tenure as pledge advisor from 1954 to 1966. Soon she became one of ISU’s best-known sorority advisors. As the Kappa Alpha chapter’s advisor from 1966 until 1988, she inspired and mentored hundreds of women, infusing them with her love of AOTT and unfailing zest for life. Another alumnae member perhaps put it best when she recently observed that JoAnn “always found the good in everything and everyone and was an advocate for those less fortunate.”
JoAnn won numerous awards during her years with AOTT, both nationally and internationally, earning recognition as the National Outstanding Alumnae and National Outstanding Advisor along with the International McKinney Award for Outstanding Chapter Advisor. She never stopped being the champion of Kappa Alpha chapter, and even in recent years, she attended every ISU homecoming and alumnae gathering. As an inspiration for old and new members alike, JoAnn never shone brighter than she did among her peers.
JoAnn made a lasting mark at ISU as well as in the greater Terre Haute community. She attended almost every ISU football and basketball game, accompanied by a family member or two. Unmissable in a crowd, her sparkling clothing merely drew attention to her shining spirit.
JoAnn generously devoted her time and talents to an array of community projects as an active member of Tri Kappa, Meals on Wheels, the League of Women Voters, the Swope Alliance, and the Terre Haute Children’s Theater, as well as a PTO and Brownie troop leader during her children’s school years. More recently, she contributed her perspective and insights to the Garfield High School Purple Eagle Plaza project, doing whatever she could on behalf of her beloved high school.
JoAnn and Paul opened Café Oasis in 1987 as a lively tropical eatery whose décor drew on local artists and artisans. There they served many of their favorite recipes, along with many more contributed by their son Kraig from his life in Pasadena, CA. In the late ’80s, no spot was hotter than the Café Oasis.
JoAnn grew up and raised her children as part of the congregation of the Maple Avenue Methodist Church, where she taught Bible school lessons and assisted with innumerable church fundraisers. Later in life, she converted to Catholicism and became a member of Holy Rosary Church.
JoAnn was preceded in death by her husband, Paul Gibbons; her second husband, Larry Martin; her son, Kraig Gibbons; her parents, Frank and Ann Bohn; her in-laws, J.B and Lucille Gibbons; her brother, Bill (Phyllis) Bohn; her brother-in-law Robert (Juanita) Gibbons; her brother-in-law Kent Martin; her nephew, Brad Bohn; and her granddaughter, Zoe Ann Ponsot.
JoAnn is survived by Kevin (Janie) Gibbons (Golden, CO), Karen (Patrick) Titzer (Terre Haute), Kay (Marc) Ponsot (Terre Haute), and stepdaughters Jennifer (Dave) Schnorenberg (Trent woods, NC) and Debbie (Brian) Knapp (Cloverdale, IN). She was deeply proud to be the “Mimi” of grandchildren Kyle (Jen) Gibbons (Lakewood, CO); and Emile Ponsot (Terre Haute, IN); great-granddaughter Kendyll Gibbons (Lakewood, CO); step-grandchildren Kara (Josh) Williams (Avon, IN), Kolten (Amber) Knapp (Cloverdale, IN), Paul Schnorenberg , and Ginny Schnorenberg; step-great-granddaughter Kynleigh Knapp; nieces Laura (Pete) Gibbons Nikiel (Haughton, LA) and Tina Bohn Strickland (New Port Richey, FL); and great-nephews Patrick Nikiel and Bradley Bohn; sister-in-law Donna (Don) Thompson (Terre Haute); along with special friend Tom Edwards and too many other friends to list—including all the beautiful AOTT angels.
A celebration of JoAnn’s life is planned for a later date. At her request, in lieu of flowers, please make memorial donations to the Kraig Gibbons Art Scholarship at ISU or to the ISU AOTT Scholarship. Mail checks to the ISU Foundation Office, 30 N. 5th Street, Terre Haute, IN 47807, or to the Garfield High School Purple Eagle Plaza–Wabash Valley Community Foundation, 200 S. 8th Street, Terre Haute, IN 47807. Cremation arrangements were entrusted to Greiner Funeral Home.