Karen Buckley told hundreds of Forest Hill residents Thursday night how her best friend, Yolanda Gibbs, would live on through the memories made in their 40-year friendship. 

Over 300 people gathered with Buckley on Oct. 19 to honor Gibbs, a longtime Fort Worth ISD cafeteria employee. The vigil was held in the grass lot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints located at 6300 Crawford Lane West, next to the school where Gibbs worked for about 30 years. 

“I thank God for Yolanda, her life, her legacy,” Buckley said. “She didn’t just leave. She left a legacy, and she’s showing it here.” 

On Oct. 11 at 6:50 a.m. Forest Hill Police Department was dispatched to David K. Sellars Elementary School following a report of a shooting, according to a press release. The victim was later identified as 56-year-old Yolanda Gibbs, who was transported to John Peter Smith Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. 

In a release provided to Fort Worth Report during the vigil, the Forest Hill Police Department stated that a person of interest, Anthony Harris, was found deceased Oct. 13 in Fort Worth. Harris had a criminal history and was on parole at the time of the shooting. Harris and Gibbs were in a dating relationship for about two years, according to the release. The investigation is ongoing. 

Buckley said during the vigil that she and Gibbs did everything together. She recounted memories of driving around town in Gibbs’ old yellow car and spending time with each other’s family. When Buckley thinks about her friendship with Gibbs, she is reminded of “Laverne & Shirley,” a TV sitcom about two best friends and their adventures.

Pink and blue balloons floated in the evening sky as school staff, clergy and family friends shared with the tealight candle-carrying crowd how Gibbs had touched their lives.

Keisha Braziel, PTA president of the school and family friend of Gibbs, shared how Gibbs’ personality made a mark on her life and others. 

“Y’all know she was a whole piece of work. If you met her, you didn’t meet nobody else like her,” Braziel said. “Although there’s been a loss, she is still with you because she lives in you.”

Delain Sandifer, principal of David K. Sellars Elementary, took to the microphone to reference Matthew 25:42, a line of scripture in the Bible, when describing Gibbs’ character. 

“When I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you invited me in. That is who Miss Gibbs was to me and countless others,” Sandifer said. “There will be a huge void here at David K. Sellars.” 

The Rev. Eric Paul is a pastor at Vessels of Praise Worship Center in Forest Hill and a former classmate of Gibbs. Paul provided the invocation and closing prayer for the vigil. 

“I heard the Lord say that one thing is universal, that’s love. You don’t have to understand it, but you can see it,” Paul said, “and we’ve seen the love, just look around, you see the love that she left as a legacy.”

Marissa Greene is a Report for America corps member, covering faith for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at marissa.greene@fortworthreport.org or on Twitter @marissaygreene.

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Marissa Greene is a Report for America corps member and covers faith in Tarrant County for the Fort Worth Report. Greene got her start in journalism at Austin Community College, where she spearheaded the...