South Berkeley couple that died Feb. 11 remembered for welcoming presence in community

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Married couple Dora Bibbs, 87, and Gary White, 56, who were found dead Feb. 11, were beloved community members.

The couple was found dead in their South Berkeley apartment, but the cause of death is unknown. Family and friends remember Bibbs and White for their incredibly giving nature and their welcoming presence in their neighborhood.

Todd Walker, the couple’s neighbor who called Bibbs “Mama Bibbs,” recalled how the pair’s home was always open to others.

“(Bibbs) was one of the mothers of the neighborhood,” Walker said. “Her door was always open to anybody. … She never judged anybody.”

White had been the “handyman” of the neighborhood, according to Walker. He helped the elderly in the area and always provided assistance to those who needed it.

Eddie Ford, White’s younger brother, said White enjoyed fixing things and often did odd jobs such as fixing cars or houses.

“Everybody knew him, everybody loved him,” Ford said.

According to Ford, White grew up in Berkeley and attended Berkeley High School. He worked at the restaurant Juan’s Place for about 15 years.

Ford said their family had known Bibbs since Ford and White were children.

White also had an affinity for bike riding, Ford said, and had given up driving years ago in favor of biking or walking everywhere.

As a child, Juanisha Kimble, Bibbs’ great-niece, would spend time at her great-aunt’s apartment with cousins. She remembered how Bibbs welcomed everyone into her home, refusing to let anyone say no to food.

“People all over the place looked to her for love and affection and you never had to question whether or not she would be up those stairs in her apartment ready to rush out some great southern hospitality,” Kimble said in an email.

Walker, who had known both Bibbs and White for nearly 50 years, said Bibbs had known him since he was 7 and had watched him grow up.

He also said the pair was incredibly funny.

“Mama Bibbs — she didn’t bite her tongue,” Walker said. “Gary was like a comedian too. He was quiet but he (would) throw his little jokes in too.”

Kimble described Bibbs as a sort of “counselor,” who could be painfully honest but loved unconditionally.

“She wouldn’t sugar coat anything and if your feelings were hurt afterwards she didn’t apologize,” Kimble said in her email. “(S)he would just let you know that regardless of the choice you make she still (loved) you.”

While extending their love and compassion to those around them, the pair was also an immense source of happiness for each other. Bibbs and White were always together and could often be spotted walking down the street together, according to Ford.

“The whole neighborhood is going to miss them,” Ford said. “They took care of everybody.”

Contact Sydney Fix at at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sydney_fix.

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