Evelyn Irene Gibbs, 90, born in Chattanooga on March 7, 1929, well known Chattanooga musician, went to be with the Lord on Sunday, March 17, 2019.
A graduate of Chattanooga High School, Evelyn received the bachelor of music and the master of music degrees from the University of Chattanooga with a major in piano as a student of Harold J. Cadek. She studied organ with Bonnie Christie, Isa McIlwraith at UC and Adele Dieckman in Atlanta and was secretary at Cadek Conservatory of Music 1947 – 1965.
At UC she was a member of Mortar Board and Kappa Chi Epsilon, honorary service fraternities; served as president of Collegium Musicum, the campus religious council, the Baptist Student Union; and was elected to Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. She was a member of the band and orchestra and was accompanist for the Male Glee Club. Evelyn was accompanist for several of the early Chattanooga Opera Association’s operas under the direction of Dr. Werner Wolff, accompanist for the Chattanooga Civic Chorus under the direction of Dr. J. Oscar Miller, accompanist for Emmy Land Wolff’s voice students and was pianist and accompanist for the UC music department’s weekly radio program directed by Mr. Cadek. She was a frequent performer with Cadek Conservatory’ a Casale Ensemble.
Evelyn served as president of The Chattanooga Music Club 1974 – 76 and later as secretary general. As a member of the American Guild of Organists, she was dean of the Chattanooga AGO Chapter 1971 – 73 and was a founding member and first secretary of the Chattanooga Music Teachers Association, which became a part of the Tennessee Music Teachers Association and the Music Teachers National Association.
A private teacher of piano and organ, Evelyn was pianist and assistant organist at Central Baptist Church before joining Brainerd Baptist Church as organist in 1950. Upon her retirement, following over 45 years as organist and music secretary/music assistant, she was named Organist Emerita. Evelyn was a member of the Bethany Sunday School Class, a leader in the College and Career Department, served as chair of the church’s Historical Committee and was a member of the committees that selected the pipe organs for the church’s new Sanctuary and Chapel. She composed a musical drama based on Dr. Robert G. Lee’s famous sermon, “Payday, Someday,” which was dramatized by the church’s music ministry for over 5,000 people and later was performed at the Tennessee Baptist State Convention in Murfreesboro, in honor of Dr. Lee’s birthday.
Evelyn was invited to play the dedicatory program for the carillon that was installed in the Sunsphere at the 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair by Maas-Rowe Carillons of Escondido, CA. She also played dedicatory programs for carillons installed in a number of churches in Tennessee and Georgia. Maas-Rowe produced an album of Christmas music featuring Evelyn playing the Brainerd Baptist Church’s carillon and organ.
Active in civic work, she was chair of the Chattanooga Music Club’s Organ Restoration Committee for the restoration of Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium’s Austin Pipe Organ, 1985 – 2007, and became a member of the CMC Organ Advisory Committee following completion of the restoration. She was selected as one of the 6 – member advisory committee for the renovation of Memorial Auditorium in 1990 and also served as a member of the Steering committee for the renovation of the Auditorium’s Community Theatre that was rededicated in 2013 and named the Robert Kirk Walker Theatre.
In 2010 the Chattanooga Music Club created the special position of Secretary General in recognition of all that Miss Gibbs had done for the club and the music community of the TN Valley. Just the week before her homegoing the club honored “Auntie Evelyn” with the establishment of The Evelyn Gibbs Performance Fund. This fund will enable the club to continue to present the two annual free programs featuring the Mighty Austin Organ which Miss Gibbs worked tirelessly for over three decades to get restored. Tax deductible contributions in her memory may be made to the Chattanooga Music Club (Gibbs Fund) P. O. Box 21572, Chattanooga, TN 37424 or online at chattanoogamusicclub.org. All donations (at time of printing) will be listed in the June 25th patriotic program at Memorial Auditorium.
Evelyn was preceded in death by her mother, Mrs. Rhonda T. Gibbs; and brothers, Dillon C. Gibbs, Preston D. Gibbs and Gilford H. Gibbs.
Evelyn is survived by her nephew and niece-in-law, David and Carol Gibbs, Chattanooga; niece and nephew-in-law, Dianne and John Grant, Lawrenceville, Ga.; great-nephew, James Grant, Lawrenceville, GA; great nephew and niece-in-law, Brian and Leigh Anne Grant and their two sons, Caleb and Andrew, Monroe, GA.
The family will receive friends from 1-3 p.m. on Friday, March 22, at the North Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home. A Celebration of Evelyn’s life will follow at 3 pm on Friday at the North Chapel with Dr. Bill Owens officiating. Burial will be in Hamilton Memorial Gardens
Memorial gifts may be made to the Lottie Moon Offering at Brainerd Baptist Church or to the CMC Organ Fund for the Memorial Auditorium Pipe Organ.
Arrangements are by the North Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home, Crematory and Florist, 5401 Highway 153, Hixson, TN 37343. Please share your thoughts and memories at www.chattanooganorthchapel.com