Remembering Bill Libby

To all who cherished Bill Libby, his impact was immeasurable and his welcoming nature will be forever missed.  

“Bill was such a force of positivity in the McMurry community. His care and consideration of his faculty, his support of the McMurry mission, his involvement with his students, and his encouragement and witness to God were exemplary,” David Wallis said in a Facebook comment on a post announcing the passing of Libby. “God has a special mission for him now.”  

Whether it was giving wisdom to a student or staff member in need, being welcoming to new political opinions on his radio show, welcoming friends into his home, or striving to learn more about the world’s religions and people that are typically misunderstood, Libby was always known to serve and love others without limits.  

Education and a rewarding military career

Libby’s post-secondary education started out at Texas A&M University where he played the French horn in the Fighting Texas Aggie Band and ended up becoming a Chaplain of the Band and Corps during his senior year at the university. After graduating from A&M, he went on to receive his Master of Divinity from Drew Theological Seminary. He not only received his degree at Drew but also met, Amelia, the love of his life. He went on to also obtain a M.A. in American Diplomatic Studies from Kansas State University.  

Bill Libby army chaplain in Vietnam War

Throughout his 30 years of U.S. Army service, Libby spent assignments at Fort Bliss and overseas in Dachau, Germany.  Libby spent his career serving, mentoring, and guiding soldiers and their families as a Methodist Chaplain.  

After serving in Vietnam, Libby was awarded a Bronze Star for Valor for his combat ministry. By the end of his career in the military, Libby advanced to the rank of Colonel and spent time at a number of different duty stations and assignments. He spent his final assignment teaching Ethics and History at the National Defense University in Washington D.C. 

Finding passion through serving at McMurry University

After his Army retirement Libby continued to be a dedicated member of the United Methodist Church. He served as associate pastor and Sunday school leader and continued to host ministries for Vietnam-era veterans and their families. Libby continued to be an active member in the UMC up until his death.  

When he came back to Abilene after his wife’s death, Libby had a new-found energy in devoting his time to the University community. Beginning in 1991, he took on the roles of coach and professor. During his 20 years at the University, he quickly became beloved by students and faculty alike. Past students and student athletes remember his wisdom, advice, and always being open to have a chat when they needed it. He spent a brief time as athletic director at McMurry as well. Libby applied all of his life experiences to his coaching and teaching philosophies.  

Libby was passionate from the start about the mission and values of McMurry University. He took all of those passions into his work as a coach and teaching students. As an avid marathon runner himself, Libby founded the cross-country program and even endowed the program in order to allow it to last far beyond his time at McMurry. Libby spent his spare moments attending McMurry athletic events, both home and away, bringing refreshments for student athletes while encouraging them to be the best they can be on and off the field.  

An immeasurable impact on McMurry Advancement 

“Perhaps the most recognizable aspect of Bill Libby’s service to the campus was his “ministry of presence,” President Sandra Harper said. “Bill was always present at sporting events, plays, concerts, and Chapel; his support for these integral activities on our campus left an indelible “Bill Libby mark” on our campus.” 

Bill Libby was not only generous with his presence but with his treasure. From the elevator in Maedgen Lobby to study abroad scholarships, Libby made many financial contributions to the advancement of McMurry University. A biological plot of land donated by Bill Libby is still used today for students at McMurry to conduct research on local wildlife and plants. The plot of land is lovingly known as “Firebase Libby.”  

Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Mike Hutchison added that Libby’s belief in seeing a project through to its finish is what drove his passion for giving back to McMurry.  

Billy Libby at Firebase Libby

“He fundamentally understood his support, no matter the project, would strengthen the student experience,” Hutchinson said. “Bill was an exemplar of the McMurry spirit.  His legacy will never diminish on this campus.” 

In recognition of all of his philanthropic contributions to the University Libby received a John Wesley Award for Philanthropy.