Community Embraces Phs Senior

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During James Gibson's darkest days, friends, family, teammates and fellow students rallied around the Payson High School senior in a loving show of support.

Following the death of his mother, Darlene S. Gibson-Morales, last week, the first to offer comfort was senior teammate, Tyler Williams, and his family.

Williams, and his parents, opened their Pine home to Gibson, known by teammates as "Gibbie."

"We'd do it for anyone, but we love him. He's such a good kid," Williams' mother Lori Purtill said.

Others made plans to collect money for funeral expenses and to provide for the teenager until he graduates from PHS in May.

Last Tuesday, Gibbie, still reeling from this mother's death, accepted an invitation for lunch and a matinee from Senior Class President, Katie Ford, and Williams.

Later that day, Gibbie said the gesture meant a great deal to him.

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In keeping with tradition, PHS seniors removed their football cleats, then gathered at midfield at the conclusion of Friday evening's season-ending clash against Sinagua. In wrestling, it is customary to leave shoes on the mat at the end of an athletic career.

At that afternoon's practice, a steady stream of well-wishers approached Gibbie to give their condolences. Among them was spirit line sponsor, Becky Hagler, who told Gibbie the door to her family's home was always open.

On Friday evening, the benefit peaked with a 50-50 raffle in which the winners, Mark and Penny DeGroot, donated their $300 in proceeds back to the Gibson fund, which was started by Ford and Purtill.

Following the game, Gibbie received hugs from his uncle, Steve Taylor and Taylor's wife, Darlene, and a throng of well-wishers.

Over the weekend, the Chaparral Pines Golf Club offered its facilities for a benefit tournament.

According to Ford the event could earn the teen enough money to start a college education.

Gibbie's mother was buried Tuesday morning in the Mountain Meadows Memorial Park in Round Valley.

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