Update: Danielle Gibbs Remembered for Warm, Caring Personality
Family members mourn the Heights High student who passed away this week
Updated 10:30 a.m. Tuesday: The Cleveland Heights High Gospel Choir will sing this morning at the funeral for Danielle Gibbs, a senior at the R.E.A.L. school at Heights High who died Jan. 25.
Marc Aden, principal of R.E.AL., said by e-mail that the school's leadership group and staff raised money to purchase a flower arrangement.
The wake and service will take place at 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. today at Cummings & Davis Funeral Home Chapel. Aden and staff will attend.
"I request that we consider granting a diploma to this family in June at the class of 2011 commencement. Danielle was a candidate for graduation," Aden said.
Jimmie Willoughby called his daughter his "angel."
"She definitely was her father's baby," Willoughby said.
His daughter Danielle Gibbs died on Jan. 25. She was a senior at the R.E.A.L. school at Cleveland Heights High.
Gibbs, 20, had a stroke in October 2009. The family discovered that she had moyamoya syndrome, which can cause constricted blood flow in the brain, said Dianna Willoughby, her mother.
Gibbs was paralyzed on her right side, limiting her ability to speak and communicate, Dianna said. The person who understood her best was her twin brother.
"He's dealing with it in his own way," Dianna said of David, who has autism. "David always took care of her and looked out for her. After she had the stroke, she didn’t have a lot of language, but it was like he could read her mind."
Dianna noticed improvements in her daughter's speech, and credits the relationship she had with her teachers at Heights High.
"She was making a lot of progress. She was saying more words — she was happy," Dianna said.
Dianna recalled how her daughter comforted her.
"If she thought you were sad or something was wrong, she would wrap your face with her hand, and she would smile at you," she said.
Gibbs loved to sing along to her favorite musicians, who included Fantasia and R. Kelly. Her parents would joke with her when she mimicked lead singer Lionel Richie of the Commodores.
"She loved messing up his music," Jimmie said. "She called it music, I called it noise."
That voice and warm personality will be missed in the halls of Heights High. Marc Aden, principal of R.E.A.L., said counselors will be available to offer support for students.
“She was a cherished member of our school community, and her absence will be felt by all of us," Aden said in an e-mail. "She was known for having a kind heart.”
Calling hours will be at 5 p.m. Sunday at Cummings & Davis Funeral Home, 13201 Euclid Ave. in East Cleveland. The wake and service will take place at 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at Cummings & Davis Funeral Home Chapel.