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Faye Gibbens, NDAD co-founder, dies at age 70

For some 40 years, Faye Gibbens worked alongside her husband to expand the North Dakota Association for the Disabled from a small support group in Grand Forks to an organization with statewide reach.

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For some 40 years, Faye Gibbens worked alongside her husband to expand the North Dakota Association for the Disabled from a small support group in Grand Forks to an organization with statewide reach.

But to hear Ron Gibbens talk, it was mostly his wife’s doing.

“We wouldn’t be where we are without Faye’s positive influence,” he said. “She was a spunky lady.”

On Saturday, she died at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks of complications from a failing kidney and weakened heart. She was 70.

Faye Gibbens didn’t consider her job to be “work” and was always looking for ways to help the community, said NDAD’s Director of Client Services Leslie Stastny.


“She was always all about the client,” Stastny said. “She loved this organization. This was her baby.”

The Gibbenses started NDAD in the 1970s after their son Mike was born with cerebral palsy.

“When we got into it we were a small support group basically, and within about three years we were doing major things and helping people financially,” Ron Gibbens said.

Today, NDAD has offices in Grand Forks, Minot, Fargo and Williston, funded, in part, by gaming operations in Grand Forks, Minot, Fargo and Bismarck.

The group said its mission is to help people with physical and mental disabilities, many of whom aren’t eligible for help from other agencies. Even those not ordinarily considered disabled can get help with organizing benefits, for example, people recovering from severe injuries or battling life-threatening illnesses.


Faye LaVonne Lynse was born in 1943 in Maddock, N.D., and raised in nearby Harlow, according to NDAD. She met Ron Gibbens at a Quonset dance near Churchs Ferry, N.D., in 1963, and married the following year.


When their son was born, they moved to Grand Forks, a larger community with more facilities and services for children with disabilities. By the mid-1970s, they had formed a support group of parents and relatives of other disabled children.

In the early years, the Gibbens held other jobs while volunteering with NDAD, he working for UND and she running The Record Shop at Columbia Mall. Faye Gibbens began working fulltime at NDAD in 1987.

For many years, she served as the group’s director of client services and later its chief program officer. She retired last spring after her health problems worsened.

“This is really hard because we’ve known her for so long,” said Stastny, who worked closely with Gibbens. “She was such a warm, caring woman with just such a generous soul.”

A good friend

NDAD Board Member Anne Putbrese met Faye Gibbens as a physical therapist working with the Gibbenses’ son, and the two women have remained close for about 40 years

“She had a lot to deal with, having a son with a severe disability and herself having a chronic illness, but you never knew it,” Putbrese said. “She was calm, pleasant, loved to visit, loved to go shopping and loved to go out in the evenings and socialize.”


Though her transplanted kidney began to fail in fall 2012 and she suffered a heart attack in early 2013, Faye Gibbens never failed to attend NDAD events - and more.

“I sent an invite for them to come to the hospital for my retirement party and I cried because Faye came,” Putbrese said. “It just meant so much. She was in a wheelchair, she was dressed up, and she looked so nice.”

Work life

Ron Gibbens said his wife truly enjoyed her work.

“NDAD just became such a part of our lives that we didn’t know when we were working and when we were playing,” he said. “Together all we talked about is what a lot of people would consider work, but for us it wasn’t work, it was just what our lives were about.”

Besides her husband and son, Faye Gibbens is survived by two sisters, Joan Gilbertson and Gail Grondahl, both in Maddock; a brother, Mark Lynse, in Harlow, N.D.; and several nieces and nephews.

A service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Sharon Lutheran Church in Grand Forks. With visitation for one hour before the service

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