Betty Love Gibbs
Betty Jean Love was born in Raleigh, NC in 1934 and began studying ballet in Pittsburgh when she was just four years old.
At Penn State Betty served as president and featured dancer in the modern dance club. In April of 1953, Betty decided to try out for the Penn State cheerleading squad. She loved football and wanted to demonstrate her strong school spirit and gymnastics abilities.
Unfortunately she was told by officials that colored students were not allowed on the squad.
Three years later, Betty made her competitive gymnastics debut as one of two women representing Penn State at the 1956 National AAU Championships and Olympic Trials.
After graduation, Betty accepted a position as physical education director at a YWCA in Ohio. She taught classes in dance, gymnastics, and swimming. She eventually accepted a similar position in New York City.
In 1964, Betty landed a role as a dancer in the gospel song-play “The Prodigal Son,” written by Langston Hughes and directed by Vinnette Carroll. The show opened in New York City and toured several European cities.
While on tour in Paris, Betty met and fell in love with U.S. serviceman Ray Gibbs III. The two were married in 1966 and had daughter, Cynthia Yvette, in Paris in 1965.
The family eventually moved back to Pittsburgh where Betty’s YMCA dance program evolved into Love’s Academy of Dance. She produced an award-winning competitive dance team in the 9-11 age category. Many of her students have gone on to pursue careers in the dance world.
On February 28, 2010, 75-year-old Betty Love Gibbs was named an “Honorary Penn State Cheerleader” by the Penn State Athletics Department.