Anna Virginia Thurman Steele Gibbs was born August 7, 1924 in Bronxville, NY, daughter of the late Benjamin H. and Mable Lee Thurman. She died at Cheraw Healthcare on May 5, 2019.
She attended schools in Westchester County, NY until her senior year which she spent at Charlotte’s Central High. There she made many friends whom she reconnected with years later. She and her brother split their summer vacations between Asheville, NC with their maternal grandparents George and Lula Lee and Cheraw, SC with their uncle and aunt, Rufus and Nan Thurman.
Anne attended Wellesley College where she studied Russian poetry with writer-in-residence, Vladimir Nabokov. At Barnard College she studied playwriting, and she pursued acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. While working for CBS Radio’s The Arthur Godfrey Show in New York City, she was called to Wallace, South Carolina by her father to run his cattle farms. There she met Rockingham attorney, George S. Steele, Jr., and they married in 1950. A year and a half later, Mr. Steele died of cancer shortly before their only child, Rosalie, was born. In 1958 she and her daughter moved to Charlotte where she worked in Wachovia’s Travel Department. In 1961, she married Charlotte dentist, John Gibbs. With him she had a daughter, Laura.
In the 1960s and 1970s, she and her husband, John, pioneered organic farming in Union County, NC producing tomatoes and lettuce in their greenhouses for sale in Charlotte grocery stores. Their farm outside of Mineral Springs was once one of the few place ones could find lightening bugs, as they used no inorganic pesticides or herbicides.
Throughout her life she continued her writing and acting interests. Anne attended the Southeastern Writers Conference for many summers at Epworth by the Sea on St. Simons Island where she worked with many prominent southern writers. She wrote several radio plays for the Blue Ridge Radio Readers which produced recordings for the blind. For many years she broadcast a weekly gardening program on local radio in Monroe. And she wrote and performed in many plays for the Playwrights Forum in Charlotte.
She was a member of the Opera Carolina Guild for 50 years, and her volunteer activities involved her in the Raptor Center, the Nature Museum, the Humane Society of Charlotte, and the Shepherd’s Center. In her later years, Anne’s special interest was in support of the Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault. She enabled the organization of acquire her former home in Wallace which now serves as a transitional shelter for 9 women and 11 children.
Anne was preceded in death by her husbands, George Spencer Steele, Jr. and John William Gibbs, Sr., her daughter, Laura Thurman Gibbs Frasier and her brother, George Edward Thurman. She is survived by her daughter Rosalie Armistead Steele and her husband, Robert McKenna; her step-children John William Gibbs, Jr. and his wife, Jo Ann, Christine G. Carleton and her husband, John, Mary Kathryn G. O’Hair and her husband, Terry, and Julie Gibbs Foster; and nephew Ben H. Thurman and his wife, Roseanne.
The family would like to thank Ms. Shirl Winston who took such good care of her making sure that she was dressed beautifully every day while she lived in Charlotte and the wonderful staff at Cheraw Healthcare and Hospice Care of South Carolina.
A graveside service will be held at Old St. David’s Cemetery on Thursday, May 9, 2019 at 4:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to: St. David’s Cemetery Association, P.O. Box 1196, Cheraw, SC 29520 or the Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault, P.O. Box 1351, Florence, SC 29503-1351.
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