The woman featured in my Sunday column, Tammy Finci, said something that stopped me: She hoped people would not think less of her because her father, the late David Gibbs, turned out to be a criminal — in fact, a serial holdup man and convicted murderer who was one of Maryland’s longest-serving inmates. (He’s the man in the foreground of the above Sun photo from 1971, when Gibbs was involved in a Jaycees chapter in the old Maryland Penitentiary.)

As I report in the column, Tammy never knew her father; she believes he and her mother had a very brief relationship in California in late 1965, when he was a fugitive from justice.

During my last phone call with Tammy before filing the column, I asked, of course, if she was OK with me writing about her search for her father. After all, that’s not why she had contacted me. When she wrote in earlier February, it was merely to find out if I’d ever spoken to her dad. (I had mentioned him in a 2019 column about the oldest inmates in the Maryland prison system.) I told Tammy I thought hers was an interesting story, and that her consent to publish it might shake the tree; she might hear from someone who knew David Gibbs before or after he was sentenced to life in prison.

I didn’t write down what she said, but it was something like, “I hope people don’t think less of me because of who my father was.” I did, however, note what she said next, “Unfortunately, he is who he is. There’s nothing I can do about that.”

Indeed, there’s no shame in how and where and to whom you were born. The only shame is the shame we bring on ourselves, and Tammy Finci appears to have little to worry about there. Her legacy already includes honorable service in the U.S. military and service to people who have been through hell: She’s helped families find missing persons with search-and-rescue dogs. She estimates involvement in some 50 such searches, all as a volunteer.

No, forget that worry about shame because David Gibbs made all his bad choices well before you were born, Tammy. All will understand the need to identify your long lost father, and none will think less of you for what he was.


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