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Jo Ann Gaps

Updated: May 4

Jo Ann “Jo” Gaps passed away on April 22, 2022, at the age of 91 after a brief but courageous battle with stomach cancer. Jo will be laid to rest with her husband Johnny during a private burial at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery in Van Meter.

Jo Ann Gibson was born November 9, 1930, in Davenport, Oklahoma, to Shirley Barksdale Gibson and Beverly Edward Gibson. Jo and her sisters Betty Lou, Wilma, and Edna were known as the Gibson Girls. After graduating from Davenport High School, Jo attended the National School of Business on scholarship. She worked at 20th Century Fox in Oklahoma City upon graduation, where she met several celebrities, viewed movie premieres, and even received a gift of roller skates from Mickey Rooney. During this time, she and her friends attended dances regularly at Tinker Air Force Base, where she met her husband, Air Force Staff Sergeant John “Johnny” Gaps, Jr., in true Hallmark Movie fashion. After watching Jo dance with several of his friends, Johnny finally worked up the nerve to ask her to dance, and the rest is history. Their song was “Harbor Lights”, and Johnny brought her yellow roses throughout their 52 years of marriage.


Jo and Johnny settled in West Des Moines, Iowa, in 1970, raising their three children and many pets. Jo had a career spanning over 20 years with Northwestern Bell and U.S. West. She was a proud member of Telephone Pioneers of America and Communications Workers of America, as well as an accomplished Toastmaster. After retirement, Jo continued to work at various businesses, including Elliott Aviation, and volunteered at schools and other organizations.


Jo was incredibly close to her whole family and many friends, and she never met a stranger. She and Johnny were totally devoted to their 3 kids, 10 grandkids, and 10 great-grandkids. Her spaghetti and meatballs, chocolate chip cookies, and apple dumplings were famous among those who knew her. Jo was known for her kindness, thirst for knowledge, speaking her mind (“Everyone must vote!”), feeding squirrels, and randomly handing out Starbucks gift cards. Mostly, Jo was known for her unconditional love.

Jo was preceded in death by her husband Johnny, her parents, and her sisters Betty Lou and Wilma. She is survived by her children Julie Thomasson (Kevin), John Gaps III, and Jeri Williams (Greg); grandchildren Matthew Van Dyke (Amy), John Henry Gaps, Ethan Gaps (Nicole Tesch), Sarah Bonsall (John), Emilia Gaps, Audrey Williams (Abdullah Tunc), Kori Patton (Allen), Frannie Williams, Daniel Williams, and Melissa Mosier (Dave); and great-grandchildren Addison and Avery Van Dyke, George and Carina and Johnny Bonsall, Cordelia Gaps, Lawrence and Roger Gaps, Rolli Patton, and Gracie Mosier. She is also survived by her sister Edna Cross of Chandler, OK, many nieces and nephews, and three corgis who continue to wait by the back door for her.


Please join us for “Jo’s Celebration of Life” on Saturday, June 4, from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm at Johnny’s Steakhouse, 6075 Mills Civic Pkwy in West Des Moines. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to MercyOne Johnston Hospice Care, 5820 Winwood Drive, Johnston, IA 50131.