GW Tibbetts died Dec. 2, 2020, 17 days after his 85th birthday. He didn’t want to.
A lifelong resident of Georgia, he taught math and physics to high school students in Rockmart for 10 years, coaching football and drama too, and devoted 30 years to teachers all over the state providing skills and support to strengthen their careers working with the Georgia Association of Educators and the National Education Association.
He liked to call that being a union goon. And he re-affirmed that work all his retirement years staying in touch with many of those teachers as well as the memories of their profession-building endeavors together.
Named for both grandfathers, Ludie Grover Tibbetts and Walter Clemons Hunt, GW often said he was thankful for small favors and not named Ludie Clemons. Serving as a church camp counselor many summers, he delighted having “What does GW stand for?” as a scavenger hunt question.
GW was born Nov. 15, 1935 on Burnt Hickory Ridge in Paulding County in a modest home where his mother cooked many meals over the open hearth. He always said those memories triggered his love of the Georgia Agrirama, including Sacred Harp singing, open hearth cooking or basket weaving classes and storytelling and acting in the museum’s special events.
GW was preceded in death by his parents Harrison Eugene and Jewell Hunt Tibbetts and his sister Judy Tibbetts Evans.
GW was among the first men to attend the formerly all-female Shorter College in Rome, Georgia. He subsequently earned a master’s degree in education from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University.
He is survived by his wife of 42 years Christine G. Tibbetts and four generations: two siblings, six children, 14 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren. Twelve nieces and nephews also enriched his life.
G. Walter Tibbetts II (Brooke), Allen Tibbetts (Beverly Sparks), Suzanne T. Murphy, John R. Tibbetts (Rhonda Garrett), Adam Fristoe (Ariel) and Andrew Tibbetts are his cherished children.
His siblings are Bob Tibbetts (Clair) and Janet T. Daniel (William).
He was married for 22 years to Monica Giles.
Taking a stand for just causes and following through with deeds defined him.
GW was assigned in 1967 to teach math in the all-Black high school in Rockmart to launch integration. The Ku Klux Klan burned a cross in his yard, which bordered the white school.
When the black and white professional teacher’s organizations merged, GW joined the field staff and was assigned to South Georgia to help make the merger and integration work.
In Tifton GW volunteered for years as a poll worker, and then as poll manager, and was active in supporting political candidates and issues-oriented campaigns.
An avid reader of historical fiction, he developed many hobbies: rabbit hunting, beekeeping, trout fishing, fruit and vegetable gardening and weaving baskets with wild grapevine.
In the community GW performed with the Tiftarea Community Theater, helped develop a regional community theater consortium and directed a dozen children’s theater performances.
His memorial service will be Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. an interactive, internet worship centered at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church with music, prayer, recollections and a deep abiding faith in enduring goodness. Participation is VIRTUAL ONLY. An internet link will be available from the funeral home.
A favorite trout stream in north Georgia will receive his ashes at a later date.
Please honor his memory by affirming a schoolteacher, quietly doing a kind deed for a friend or stranger, and seeing the worth and dignity in all people as he did.
In lieu of flowers memorials in his memory would be a living legacy for St. Anne’s Episcopal Church building fund (P.O. Box 889, Tifton GA 31793) and the social justice work of Out of Hand Theater (764 Memorial Drive, Suite 103, Atlanta GA 30316).
Albritton Funeral Directors in Tifton are handling the arrangements.