Lori Heimdahl Gibson has begun satisfying her curiosity about the spiritual universe beyond this world. While here, she was a “full spectrum human being.” Her Viking heritage was evident in her sense of adventure, her strength, and her courage. She was also known as “Walks with Open Heart.” She loved everyone, especially young people.
Born into a railroad family in Havre, MT, she then lived much of her young and early adult years in central Minnesota. She loved athletics and the outdoors. She excelled at high jumping, running, water skiing, racquetball, and mountain climbing. She was a “motorhead” and “adrenaline junkie.” If it had an engine, went fast, or pulled G’s, she was in her element, whether farm combine, roller coaster, snowmobile, or jet fighter. She was an experienced pilot and made a parachute jump on her 70th birthday.
Her absolute favorite “thing” was riding motorcycles, which she did with perfect safety over a span of 45 years. Atop her favored big Harley’s, she would grin, “This is the real me.”
Naturally, the lady always in motion travelled – to all seven continents. Her favorite experiences were Antarctica, Egypt, Norway (of course), the Canadian Rockies, and Crater Lake.
Like many in her family, she was artistic. (Her uncle Ralph was a creator of Bugs Bunny.) Lori was a natural in sculpture, painting, sketching, and cartooning. She was particularly gifted at capturing human faces.
Lori graduated from Morehead State University (now Minnesota State University, Morehead) in 1968 with degrees in English, speech, and drama. She taught those subjects for 15 years in MN high and middle schools. She loved teen-agers and was especially adept at connecting with “difficult” students. She also spent a decade in business before moving to New Mexico.
In NM, she was first an academic advisor at UNM-Los Alamos before becoming ENLACE (Engaging Latino Communities for Education) director at Northern NM College. Despite her MIN-e-SOW-ta accent, she connected easily with Espanola students. After retiring, she started the JUNTOS (Joining and Understanding Now Teens Overcome Separation) program to bridge the cultural divide between predominantly-Anglo Los Alamos and largely-Hispanic “Valley” teens.
Lori is greeted in Eternity by her parents, Finn Trygve and Alice Lien Heimdahl, sister Ann Heimdahl, and brother David Heimdahl. She is exploring the path for husband Robert, son Robert M. Pallansch II of Grey Eagle, MN, daughter-of-the-heart Alisha (Conor) Gray of Chanhassen, MN, beloved granddaughter Luna Ruby Gray of Chanhassen, sisters Shelley Grant of Becker, MN, and Merry McIntyre of Nashville, TN, brother Peter Heimdahl (Carrie Classon) of Los Alamos, many nieces and nephews, and innumerable friends and former students.
Cremation will be followed by internment at Guaje Pines Cemetery in Los Alamos. A celebration of her life will be held when safely possible. Memorial contributions may be made to Pajarito Environmental Education Center, Los Alamos Self Help, Inc., LA Cares, or a charity of choice.
Lori’s worldly presence is gone. Her boundless love, zest, and spirit lives in all she touched. Skoal!