Daughters remember independent, crafty Bradenton woman

BRADENTON -- In her two daughters' eyes, Doris Smith Gippert was an independent woman with a great sense of humor even during the most trying times.

"I would call her at least once a week, maybe more if she wasn't feeling well," said Gail Snider of her mother. "Even though she had been battling cancer for 30 years, and I knew she was in pain or uncomfortable, she'd find the humor in something and make us laugh."

Gippert, a Freedom Village resident, died Jan. 2 from liver complications brought on by various bouts with breast and bone cancer. She was 88 years old.

"She was not really afraid to do anything," said Linda Tommasino, Gippert's other daughter. "Some people would say stubborn and others would say independent-minded and always willing to try new things."

The 66-year-old part-time Key Biscayne resident described her mother as crafty.

In Freedom Village, Gippert was known for making "glamor bibs," which look like giant, snazzy bibs for grown-ups.

"In Freedom Village there's a very nice dining room and she thought you should look nice in the dining room -- even if you wore a bib," Tommasino said with a chuckle.

Gippert's craftiness also inspired her to make handbags that would go on walkers for her fellow residents. Those were also a hit.

Years ago, Snider remembers her mother taking down a whole wall by herself with a hammer and crowbar. After speaking to her late husband about wanting to take it down, Gippert grew impatient and took on the job herself before he came home from work.

"She just figured she could figure it out and she did," the 58-year-old Snider said.

For Tommasino, her mother always could add her special touch to anything.

"I think the thing that sticks out most in my mind is 'Always leave the place better than you found it,'" she said. "Wherever she was, she left it better."

Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.