Pearl Elizabeth Gibbs was born to the late Charles W. and Rachel E. Williams Burley on June 3rd, 1932 in Severn, Maryland. The tenth out of eleven children, Pearl grew up in a loving Christian home attending Sunday School with her siblings each and every week. Through those weekly meetings she fostered a deep love for Christ. At the tender age of 14, she was confirmed and joined the Metropolitan Methodist Church, now Metropolitan United Methodist Church; where she led the James E. Adams chorus. As a faithful member of this church, Pearl continued her walk with God for over fifty years.
Educated in the Anne Arundel County Public School System, Pearl attended the renowned Wiley H. Bates High School in Annapolis, Maryland. Pearl had a spirit of leadership and was elected by her peers to be the President of the 1950 graduating class. Pearl had a gifted talent and ear for music. She taught herself to play the piano at a young age. Having been blessed with a beautiful alto voice, she joined two of her younger sisters in making music. The three sisters were known locally as the Burley Sisters Trio. In addition to these musical endeavors, Pearl sang in the Junior and Senior Choirs at school and at church. In 1959, she began playing piano for the James E. Adams Chorus, and she convinced many family and friends to join the ensemble. As a local pianist, she inspired many young musicians at Metropolitan United Methodist Church including 7 time Grammy Award winner and songwriter, Toni Braxton. Although she was accepted to attend Hampton Institute, and was fond of the historically Black institution, she would ultimately attend Cortez W. Peters Business School in Baltimore, Maryland.
Pearl married twice, first to James Sewell, Sr. (deceased) and had two children. Then later she married Dan Gibbs Sr. (deceased). and from that marriage they had two children. For 18 years, she used her cooking skills in the food service department at Westinghouse Electric Company. In the mid ‘70s she became the secretary and office manager at K&K Trash Removal Inc., a family owned business, until moving to Denver, Colorado in 1987 to be with her children. She also worked as a Nurse Aide at a Denver nursing care facility. After retirement, Pearl continued serving others in her community by working at the local Goodwill Center. While living in Denver, Pearl found a new church home at New Hope Baptist Church and was baptized on March 22, 1998.
Pearl loved attending church., rarely missing a Sunday. Her church family would expect to see her wearing a shade of her favorite color, purple. In addition to her musical talents, she was an exceptional cook and baker known especially for making pies for all of those that she loved. Her favorite way to pass the time was reading the works of author Paul Laurence Dunbar with an ice cold Pepsi cola. Family and friends enjoyed spending time with Pearl by recounting tales from her youth and watching her favorite T.V shows Family Feud with host Steve Harvey and CNN with Don Lemon. Finally like her son Bruce, Pearl was also a lifelong Denver Broncos fan.
On January 31, 2023, God called Pearl home. She passed away peacefully while under the care of her daughter, Selena L. Dunham. Pearl is preceded in death by nine of her siblings, Wilbur, Alma (Sis), Edna (Teeny), Sarah (Hun), Eva, Charles, Ruby (Lois), William (Carlton) and Ruth. She is survived by her loving family including her sister Regina A. Kelly (Melvin) ; sister-in-law, Constance Burley of Severn, Maryland; and children, Selena L. Dunham, James M. Sewell, Bruce D. Gibbs, and Dan J. Gibbs, Jr. of Denver, Colorado. She will remain forever in the hearts of her grandchildren Margo M. Davis, Alicia M. Sewell, Jessica P. White (Cameron), Benjamin C. Sewell, Eric G. Dunham (Franchell) and Nichole R. Gibbs and great-grandchildren Alyssa, Eriaqwon, Isaiah, Myles, Mekhi, Aiyanna, Tajari, Jaasir and Jazaria. In addition to her large immediate family, Pearl Gibbs will be greatly missed by her nieces and nephews Gloria Jean, Denise, Danielle, Charles (Teddy), Brenda, Patty, Brian, George, Cecelia, Kim, Dean, Darren, Michael, and Craig; along with a host of great nieces and nephews.
The family would like to invite all guest to wear purple to the Celebration of Life. Mask are highly recommended. To join live, please click on the link to follow Livestream