Twenty-four years ago I was writing a tribute to my own father who had gone to be with Jesus. Today my attention is turned to the third most important man in my life. Around 2:00 a.m. on the 6th of October, after battling meningitis for several weeks, my father-in-law Eugene Hibbett took his last breath on earth and passed on to his eternal reward. He has left behind his sweet wife Jackie, his loving daughter Lynne and son Lee with their spouses, four precious granddaughters, and a multitude of others whose lives he has significantly impacted.
For years I have said, with tongue in cheek, that Gene Hibbett is the best father-in-law I have ever had. But in all seriousness, even if I had accumulated multiple fathers-in-law over the years, I can’t imagine any of them holding a candle to him. I am honored that he performed our wedding ceremony, and I am forever grateful that he raised his daughter to be the kind of Christian woman with whom I want to spend my life. What a blessing to have been warmly accepted into this good family.
He is the only grandfather my daughters have ever known. I am so very thankful they have gotten to know him, to experience his unconditional love and generous spirit, and to witness and learn from his outstanding Christian character. My prayer is that they closely follow in his admirable footsteps.
Dr. Eugene Hibbett was a retired chemistry professor, having served on the faculty at Freed-Hardeman University for nearly four decades. I can’t count the number of his former students I have met who did not hesitate to say that he was their favorite teacher and that he helped transform their lives more than any other. And his godly influence reached far beyond the classroom. For many years, as long as his health permitted, he was a faithful preacher of the gospel and an elder in the Lord’s church. Because of his kind and thoughtful demeanor, whenever there was a delicate matter that needed to be addressed, bro. Hibbett was the one to be sent.
He was well known and highly respected in the community. Included among his constant good works were service projects with the Lions Club, regular visits to the nursing homes, mowing widows’ lawns, and giving away his home-grown vegetables. Whenever I introduce myself there as Gene Hibbett’s son-in-law, everyone knows exactly who I am.
He was very soul conscious, always talking to people about the condition and destiny of their souls, setting up and conducting personal Bible studies, and developing his own evangelism tools. While there is no way of knowing exactly how many souls he brought to Christ during his lifetime, the number of those he tried to convert is unfathomable.
Mr. Gene and Mrs. Jackie made multiple trips to New Zealand to visit and work with us on the mission field. They labored tirelessly, doing whatever needed to be done. They also endeared themselves to the New Zealand people. After all these years they are still loved and fondly remembered here, and even the children who are now grown still ask about Papa Gene and Momma Jackie.
I am fairly certain he has always known this, but I am wholly committed to doing my best to carry on his legacy. Admittedly these are enormous shoes to fill, but my pledge to him is to do everything within my power to ensure that his daughter, at least two of his granddaughters, and perhaps to a lesser extent the rest of his family, are heaven-bound. We all have an additional reason to keep pressing on. Gene Hibbett has paved the way for this family and is now among the great cloud of witnesses, cheering us on to join him in that mansion where we shall never grow old.
"Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on."’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them’" (Revelation 14:13).
With all the love, respect, admiration and appreciation I can muster . . . . proud to be known as Gene Hibbett’s son-in-law.
--Kevin L. Moore