Tuesday, May 27, 2008 - Noted TV and radio personality Leeza Gibbons announced today the passing of her mother, Gloria Jean Dyson Gibbons, from complications due to Alzheimer’s disease on Thursday, May 22, 2008. Gloria Jean was born on March 26, 1936 in Summerton, South Carolina to the late Marie and Stephen Leon Dyson. Surviving are her husband of 55 years, Carlos Wilbur Gibbons, their three children, Carlos Jr., Leeza and Cammy and six grandchildren, Lexi, Troy, Nathan, Taylor, Kelly and Blake. She is also survived by her sister Mrs. Wayne Wells of Sumter, and extended family. Funeral services were held over the weekend in South Carolina.
The promise made by Leeza Gibbons to her mother to use her story of memory loss to empower others was the inspiration for the formation of the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation where Leeza currently sits as Chairman of the Board. Through Jean’s continual guiding maternal energy, the foundation has been able to educate, empower and energize caregivers across the country coping with any kind of chronic illness through their signature program called Leeza’s Place.
Leeza offered these words after her mother’s passing, “My mother's legacy of change is thriving. There is much needed healing and help being offered in her name through Leeza's Place. It’s what she always wanted. At home she always had the door open and the coffee on with plenty of time to sit and talk. It’s the same at Leeza’s Place. That was our inspiration behind our free services for caregivers dealing with any kind of chronic illness.”
Jean Gibbons was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1999. Three years later, Leeza started the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation and opened Leeza’s Place, which offers “an oasis of support, nurturing and comfort” to the newly diagnosed and caregivers for those with memory-loss disorders and other chronic diseases. Now with eight locations nationally, Gibbons hopes one day “to have one in every county in every state,” she says. Co-Founder and Executive Director, Dr. James Huysman, helped shape and create innovative programs and services at Leeza’s Place that encourage caregivers to “take your oxygen first”…meaning if caregivers are not healthy, mentally well-balanced and spiritually sound, then those for whom they care will suffer.
“Like millions of other families who bravely battle this insidious disease, we are dedicated to creating a world where memory loss no longer threatens to rewrite the story of our lives. Through our work at Leeza's Place we are blessed to have created a nationwide caregiver community that is becoming better education, more empowered and energized to face their struggles.”
“I want to thank all those who have offered thoughts, prayers and support. It has wrapped me in a safe blanket of love as I grieve for my mother.”
The Gibbons family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Jean’s honor to The Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation or your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter. For more information, please visit www.LeezaGibbons.com or www.LeezasPlace.org. The Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation can be reached by calling 1-888-OK-LEEZA and is located at 3050 Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 605 in Miami, Florida 33137.