Thelma Vernell Anderson Gibson was born on December 17, 1926 in Coconut Grove, Florida. She was the sixth of fourteen children born to Sweetlon Counts Albury Anderson and Thomas Theodore Anderson. At that time, Coconut Grove was divided into “Colored Town” and “White Town”. Gibson lived in “Colored Town,” and her parents’ house on Charles Street had no electricity or running water. Gibson graduated in February of 1944 from George Washington Carver High School.
Gibson attended Saint Agnes School of Nursing at Saint Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina. In August of 1947, she became a registered nurse specializing in operating techniques. Gibson worked in the “Colored Wards” of Jackson Memorial Hospital. Before continuing her education under the tutelage of Dr. Mary Carnegie at Florida A&M University and between 1954 and 1955, Gibson attended Washington, D.C.’s Catholic University. In 1956, she attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied cancer and communicable diseases. Gibson attended the University of Miami from 1957 to 1958 and earned her B.S. degree in nursing education in 1959, after one year of study at the Teachers College at Columbia University in New York.
Gibson has worked in a variety of health organizations including the E.J. Hall Clinic in Miami, Florida; the Gallinger Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C.; the Dade County Health Department; and the Riverside Hospital for Teenaged Drug Addicts. She also served as Nursing Supervisor and Part-time Social Worker for Mount Sinai Hospital from 1967 until 1980. In August, 1997, Gibson was appointed Miami’s interim City Commissioner. In 1984, she founded the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Dade County.
Gibson has received many honors and awards, including a membership as Founder of the Jewish Home for the Aged, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Drum Major for Justice Award, the Jewish Home and Hospital Women’s Auxiliary Sacred Heart Award, and the Jackson Memorial Hospital Image Committee Award, among others. She is also President of the Theodore Roosevelt Gibson Memorial Fund, Inc.; a Trustee at the University of Miami; a Life Member of the NAACP; and she serves on the board for the Coconut Grove Cares Mental Health Association. She sponsored the Gibson Health Initiative, which provides testing and assistance for HIV/AIDS. In the fall of 2000, she published her autobiography, Forbearance, Thelma Vernell Anderson Gibson, the Life of a Coconut Grove Native. She also helped form the Theodore and Thelma School of the Performing Arts in Coconut Grove, named after herself and her late husband, the late Reverend Canon Theodore Roosevelt Gibson.
George Washington Carver High School
St. Augustine's University
Coconut Grove Elementary School
How About That.
Peas (Pigeon), Rice, Fish, Salad
City commissioner and nurse Thelma Gibson (1926 - 2011 ) worked in the city government of Miami, Florida.
Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Thelma Gibson's interview
Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Thelma Gibson lists her favorites
Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Thelma Gibson describes her mother
Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Thelma Gibson describes how her family prioritized education
Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Thelma Gibson describes her maternal grandparents
Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Thelma Gibson lists her siblings
Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Thelma Gibson describes her father's family background
Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Thelma Gibson describes her family's community in Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida
Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Thelma Gibson describes her parents' marriage
Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Thelma Gibson recalls her relationship with her siblings
Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Thelma Gibson describes her schools in Coconut Grove, Florida
Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Thelma Gibson describes community institutions in Coconut Grove, Florida
Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Thelma Gibson recalls growing up during the Great Depression
Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Thelma Gibson recalls joining the Cadet Nurse Corps during World War II
Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Thelma Gibson describes the start of her nursing career
Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Thelma Gibson recalls moving to Richmond Heights, Florida
Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Thelma Gibson describes going back to school for nursing
Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Thelma Gibson recalls her career after her marriage
Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Thelma Gibson talks about volunteering after her husband's death
Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Thelma Gibson describes her community development work in Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida
Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Thelma Gibson describes her history with the University of Miami
Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Thelma Gibson describes charity projects that bear her name
Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Thelma Gibson talks about awards she has won in her community
Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Thelma Gibson describes her hopes for the future
Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Thelma Gibson reflects upon her legacy
Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Thelma Gibson narrates her photographs