Tibbs’ passing a blow to council
Council and town staff took time to reflect on the late Sharon Tibbs during Monday night’s regular meeting, with all agreeing she will be greatly missed for her knowledge, experience, dedication to the community, and sense of camaraderie.
Tibbs, who passed away last Wednesday, was first elected to council in 1992 and served on it for 16 years.
“There were many, many times, whether it was on an executive committee or whether it was in committee of the whole, people were always scrambling to get the floor to speak, and . . . whoever was in the chair would ask Sharon if she had anything to say, and she said, ‘No, I am just listening,’” recalled Coun. Wiedenhoeft.
“She listened a lot and many of us could learn from that,” he noted.
“Sometimes we’re so anxious about thinking what we want to say next that we don’t listen enough,” Coun. Wiedenhoeft stressed.
“That was something I think Sharon taught me that’s really important—to listen to people.”
On a personal note, Coun. Wiedenhoeft also said he would miss talking to Tibbs about who was winning in their NFL football pool.
“Sharon and I would always discuss how we were did on the weekend either Monday or Tuesday, and she always beat me,” he smiled.
“No matter what score I got, she always beat me by one or two.
“I will miss that about Sharon. She was a great girl,” Coun. Wiedenhoeft added.
Coun. Andrew Hallikas, who always had sat beside Tibbs in Council Chambers and at the committee of the whole table downstairs at the Civic Centre, said he considered her a colleague and friend.
“Sharon lived in Fort Frances her entire life, and she loved it here,” he remarked. “She brought this deeply-ingrained love of community to council, along with a strong sense of commitment and a really well-developed work ethic.
“Sharon did her homework.”
Tibbs also brought her whimsical sense of humour to the table, “which lightened up many a lengthy meeting,” added Coun. Hallikas.
“It was a real pleasure, and also an education, for me to work alongside Sharon,” he continued.
“Her passion for all things Fort Frances, the depth of her concern for all issues pertaining to Fort Frances, and her knowledge of the history of Fort Frances, made her an invaluable member of council.”
Council “will be diminished with the loss of Sharon,” Coun. Hallikas said.
“Sharon is an individual who has made a difference in our lives and the lives of everyone who lives in Fort Frances,” he added.
Coun. Hallikas bid farewell to Tibbs with the following passage from the Book of Matthew: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into in the joy of thy lord.”
A tearful Coun. Ken Perry said he learned a lot from Tibbs and that she will be sorely missed.
“When I came on council, Roy put me on Administration and Finance, and I said, ‘What the hell did you put me there for?’
“And he said, ‘Go there, you might learn something. Mrs. Tibbs is the chairman of that committee,’” Coun. Perry recalled, adding she was the chairman of that committee until she passed away.
Coun. Perry also remembered that Tibbs’ favourite saying was, “Volunteerism is the [rent] you pay for living in a vibrant community.”
“Sharon lived that way, and she died that way,” he remarked. “She was still serving us.
“I take my hat off to her anytime,” Coun. Perry continued. “She was the lady of this organization.
“And Sharon, I’ll try not cuss as much as I do ’cause you always tried to keep me from doing that.”
Coun. Paul Ryan said it was a pleasure to work with Tibbs during his time on council.
“I think everyone on council, and everyone in this town, should appreciate what she contributed to our town,” he noted, adding he also appreciated the small talk with her.
Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig said Tibbs was a councillor long before he became chief administrative officer. And when he started the job with little knowledge and experience, he really appreciated the support and encouragement she gave him at that time.
“You just can’t overstate the fact that Sharon is one of the people that has chosen to go into public service, and she did so with a passion and a diligence that really is somewhat unparalleled,” he lauded.
“You can’t go without noting that during the last year or so, Sharon came to council consistently and exercised her responsibilities, discharged her responsibilities, even though at times she was facing physical hardship to come to the building,” McCaig added.
He noted Tibbs was attending meetings as late as last month and that was a testament to her dedication.
McCaig added he knew she would be coming to meetings bearing “a heavy burden,” but before long, the jokes and chit-chat would start and the mood would lift.
“We would be talking about [tennis pro] Rafael Nadal, who was a personal favourite of hers, NFL football, curling, and just general good humour that went back and forth . . . and I’ll miss that,” he remarked.
“In times when you needed that levity and encouragement in terms of administration, and I speak for administration, she was always unwavering in that she provided that, and we will miss that greatly,” added McCaig.
Clerk Glenn Treftlin, who had known Tibbs longer than anyone else at the table, said he always will remember her for her community involvement.
Even before her days on council, Tibbs was involved in Girl Guides and Treftlin recalled meeting her when his daughters were at a Girl Guide retreat at Sunny Cove Camp.
“People like Sharon put their time into those types of services to the community, and it actually extends beyond Fort Frances,” he said, noting he and his family were living in Atikokan at the time.
Treftlin said he appreciated what Tibbs did to help develop his young daughters in their formative years.
“I enjoyed also the professional relationship that I had with her since being a clerk in the Town of Fort Frances,” he remarked. “And there were many opportunities I had to talk to her one-on-one. . . .
“She certainly made an impression on me, and I appreciated the opportunity of knowing her and working with her in those many years.”
A moment of silence also was observed in solemn remembrance of Tibbs’ passing during Monday night’s meeting.
Members of Tibbs’ immediate family attended the meeting, afterwords sharing kind words with councillors.