Throughout our 40th year, we will share stories of people whose lives have been touched by Face to Face over its 40-year history.

Celebrating the Life of Karl Gibson – From Karl’s sister Liz Gibson

My brother Karl contracted AIDS in the late ’70s or early ’80s. He became very ill a few times and extremely ill in 1987. He was living in Sebastopol, California but my mom and I lived in different parts of the state. So, we sold our homes and along with my oldest daughter, Connie, moved to Sebastopol, rented a house and all lived together to take care of Karl. My mom, Constance, did lots of research on what was ailing Karl. At that time, it was called ARC, AIDS related complex. It was in fact, AIDS. People we knew and our family members were not supportive of our decision, but we didn’t care. Karl needed us and we loved him so much, nothing was going to keep us from helping him. He did well and eventually got his own place to live. There were many ups and downs with his health, but we were nearby, and we weren’t leaving him. Those years all living together are some of my sweetest memories, especially of Karl and my daughter. He and Connie were so close.

Face to Face was a very important resource for us all, especially Karl. We were educated about AIDS and they provided support for him in so many ways. At times when he was ill and living in Monte Rio, Face to Face would visit and bring him food. We all supported his independence and love of his community.

Karl was loving, kind, thoughtful, creative, playful and brave. He was the best brother, uncle, son and friend. He loved his family with all his heart, especially his niece Connie. They played Barbies, he read with her every day. He took her to the YMCA for swimming lessons because it was so important to us that Connie learned to swim early. The pictures of Karl and Connie (almost 2 years old) in the pool are on display at the Y in Santa Rosa. Karl, Connie and I would go lots of places together and everyone thought she was his daughter. He was even in the room when she was born.

I would like Karl’s legacy to be of love, living life to its fullest, paying it forward and helping others in the many ways that Face to Face does. His living legacy is his niece, Constance, who is brave, brilliant and beautiful inside and out, just like him. She has his eyes, his athleticism and beautiful curly hair. When I think of him in heaven, he is in his best drag and singing duets with Diana Ross, his favorite.

Karl is missed so very much, all the time. He was literally my protector as a child and young woman, always brave and showed up for me many, many ways. I miss his smile, laughter, playing Barbies and Monopoly with him. His bravery and how he fought to stay here are examples to follow. I know he watches over us from heaven, thank goodness.

Thank you Face to Face for all you have done for so many and continue to do. You are all angels among us.

Thank you for the opportunity to celebrate Karl’s life with you all.