Laura Cynthia Sutherland Gibian

Gibian—Laura Cynthia Sutherland Gibian, 102, on February 3, 2020, completing her journey in her Friends House apartment in Sandy Spring, Md., with her four children holding her in the Light. Known by her childhood nickname, Peg was born on October 11, 1917, in Avella, Pa., a small coal mining town in the southwest corner of the state, the firstborn of Luella Wiegmann and William Wallace Sutherland’s five children. She grew up in a large extended family and was particularly close to her father, who inspired a love of family that was boundless, contagious, and perpetual.

When she met Tom Gibian in 1948 at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, she recognized someone whose devotion to family rivaled her own, and they married. Peg was adored by her family and her many friends. Born without the capacity for complaint or guile, she was honest, tough, generous, kind, and strict and loving with her children, who were all indelibly shaped by the combination of her high expectations and ardent love. They remember her devotion to her relatives, the great respect given and received, and their mild surprise in reaching adulthood and learning that not every family was like theirs.

She became a convinced Quaker in 1963 in Sandy Spring (Md.) Meeting, serving on many committees with an established seat in the meetinghouse that came to be thought of as the Gibian bench. She taught her children that their childhood home (an old farmhouse in Sandy Spring named Pen-y-Bryn by an earlier Quaker family) was both a physical and spiritual sanctuary. She channeled Robert Frost’s definition of home as the place where when you have to go there, they have to take you in. She was never happier than when she was with family, her definition of family being broad enough to include anyone who came to a Pen-y-Bryn Thanksgiving a second time. Thanksgiving eventually became known by the grandchildren as “ThanksGibian” and quickly generated a social media presence.

Peg let her life speak. She respected everyone, especially the elderly, insisting into her 90s that when her children drove her to meeting they park in the far lot so as to leave the closer parking places for the old folks. At Friends House, she enjoyed the Bible classes, with many taking note of her knowledge and quiet wisdom. She was well traveled and well read, having said that the hardest thing about college had been having to pick classes when they all seemed so interesting.

Tom died in 2015. Peg leaves behind her four children, Barbara Gibian, Janet Hough (John), Tom Gibian (Tina Grady), and Dave Gibian (Chris); eleven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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