Patricia Jean O’Rourke Gibbens
June 14, 1955 – Feb. 18, 2021

Patti passed away at the age of “29” surrounded by family and love after a long, courageous battle with cancer. Patti grew up at Morekw village on the Yurok Reservation and was a proud member of the Yurok Tribe. She was a middle child and one of 12 children, which enabled her to hone her skills as both a mediator and a caretaker.

Patti grew up fishing and playing on the Klamath River. She graduated grade school from Jack Norton Elementary and went on to graduate from Hoopa High School. She then moved to Arcata to start college at Humboldt State University (HSU). She completed one year of college before choosing to postpone her education to marry Roger Gibbens on March 22, 1975 and start a family. She went on to have four children and worked as a teacher’s aide for 14 years before she and her husband made the difficult decision for her to go back to college. Patti re-enrolled at HSU and went to school full-time for the next four years to complete her teaching credential. She would commute over two hours each way to complete her credential and attributed part of her success to the ITEPP program at HSU. At home, Patti often had to leave before her children were awake and would return after they had gone to sleep. Roger would get up early, braid Adia’s hair and make the kids pancakes before sending them to school.

Patti began her career as a teacher at Orleans Elementary before transferring to Jack Norton, where she worked until she retired in 2017. Patti poured her blood, sweat, tears, money and most of all her heart into the Jack Norton school and its community. She created lifelong friendships and cared deeply for the students and families she worked with. She was also highly involved with the ceremonies of her people and cherished her time with her Dance family. She will be remembered most for her thoughtfulness, kindness, her smile and her ‘O’Rourke laugh.’ Her favorite days were those spent on the river visiting family and watching the little ones play.

Though the passing of Patti will weigh heavy on our hearts, it was her deepest wish that people not be sad. Instead, she wanted us to smile, remember her infectious ‘O’Rourke laugh’ and spread her kindness and light to others.

She is preceded in death by her grandparents Minnie & Daniel Reed, her parents Lorraine & Richard O’Rourke, In-laws Helen & Paul Gibbens, her aunts Pat, Kaye and Chris, and her brothers, Gregory, Mickey, Dennis, Richard and Dan. She is survived by her husband, Roger Gibbens, and their children, Rose Gibbens, Carlton Gibbens & Neva, Jade Tyner & Joe, Adia Supahan & Luke. She will be lovingly remembered by her grandchildren, Aneekah, Oleana & brother, Joey & Reed, and Shasti. Also by her siblings, Carole Lewis & Vernon, Valerie O’Rourke, Kay Inong & Rudy, Tiger O’Rourke & Liz, Tom O’Rourke & Sherry, and Margo Robbins, In Laws Steve “Sea Dog” Gibbens, Daniel Gibbens, Jan Hesse, Jane Gibbens & Jim, Suze Walker, Tom Gibbens & Rubi. In addition, she will be remembered by numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, close friends, and her hundreds of students and their families whom she taught over the years and considered family. Special thank you to Taralyn & Phil, Nancy, Mary & Dave, Tony & Stacy, and Kris at the Cancer Society.

Per Patti’s request and due to COVID concerns; there will not be any services. For those who wish to leave flowers or notes, you may do so at Lower Kepel off Highway 169 on Wednesday Feb. 24. Donations in Patti’s memory can be made to American Cancer Society.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Patti Gibbens’ loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.