WASHINGTON D.C. – The line to get inside the home of Shirley Gibson in Southeast Washington, D.C. stretched out the door and onto the sidewalk Wednesday, reported NBC News.
This charitable lady and her husband, Harrison, served nearly 400 people, police officers and their families, an early Christmas dinner.
“This is Christmas for me. This is what makes us happy,” she said, between hugs and greetings.
Shirley and Harrison have been serving a turkey dinner for 20 years, in tribute to their son, Brian. At age 27, he was killed in an ambush shooting as he sat in his patrol car at a traffic light in 1997.
After his funeral, she tried to figure out how to get through the holidays.
Cooking Brian’s favorite dishes and serving them to fellow officers was her solution.
The attendance has increased from 15 the first year to nearly 400 now.
She and a platoon of family members pitch in, cooking 18 turkeys, 24 pans of corn bread, 24 pans of sweet potatoes, and dozens of cakes and cookies.
“I have three freezers downstairs, to hold the turkeys, and I borrowed my neighbors freezer across the street.”
The following details are included in tribute to Brian Gibson on the Officer Down Memorial Page:
Master Patrol Officer Brian Gibson was shot and killed execution style as he was stopped at a traffic light at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Missouri Avenue, NW.
He was shot by a man who had just been ejected from a night club by another officer. As Officer Gibson sat in his patrol car the suspect approached him and shot him four times. One bullet struck his shoulder and the other three struck him in the left side of his head. The suspect was arrested by other officers as he ran from the scene.
On February 18, 1998, the suspect in the case was found guilty of all charges. On April 23rd, 1998, the subject was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Officer Gibson had served with the Metropolitan Police Department for six years and was assigned to the Fourth District. He is survived by his wife, two children, parents, and sister.
Brian Gibson’s name was etched into the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in April 1998, and his gracious mother continued to celebrate his life of service, by serving others.
But the gathering has grown so big that she has now decided, at age 70, this year’s dinner will be the last.
When she went shopping for feast the final time, a big surprise was waiting. Dozens of police officers met her, forming an honor cordon at the store entrance.
Inside, Washington’s mayor, Muriel Bowser had an early Christmas gift — 15 highly sought after tickets to one of the city’s hottest attraction, the African-American Museum of History and Culture.
For the officers who come to the dinner, it represents the start of the Christmas season and a way to honor a fallen officer.
“She has dedicated her life since the loss of her son to helping other families who have lost their sons in law enforcement,” said Peter Newsham, Washington’s interim police chief.
But like a doting mother, Gibson says she considers those who turn up for the dinner to be her sons and daughters.
“All of these officers coming through my house and hugging Ms. Gibson. You feel their service weapons on their side, and when you hug them it feels like my Brian,” she said.
Officer Terrence Felder participated in the feast Wednesday. He also attended the the police academy with Brian.
“We just have to thank her for all the good meals, all the love, and all the fellowship.”
What will she do next year? Washington’s police department made a delivery Wednesday that may help — a check for $4,000, reported NBC News.
“When I started doing this I was 50. And it was easier to do than it is now. And I’m thinking next year, maybe during this time I’ll go on a cruise.”
If anyone has deserves a cruise, it would be Shirley Gibson.