The following appeared in the Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2007, edition of the Chillicothe Times-Bulletin.

After the death of longtime educator Ralph Nibbelin, friends reminisced about the impact he made on their lives and those around them.

All agreed they had never met a nicer, kinder man than Nibbelin, a Princeville native who left his mark on the Chillicothe community in many ways.

As a teacher here for 36 years, he usually mentioned to the students his name was easy to say — "like nibblin' on cheese,' he would tell them. Then came the often dry jokes for which he earned a reputation.

One of his best qualities was the love he had for his wife of more than 50 years, Gladys. While caring for her during her trials with Parkinson's disease, Nibbelin admitted in a Chillicothe Times-Bulletin story on May 31, 2006, that he occasionally neglected to care for himself.

Together, the couple traveled the roads to many sporting contests, where Nibbelin ran the clock for many years for football and basketball games and and was head timer at home track meets.

At Nibbelin's funeral last week, many friends and admirers gathered to remember a man they admired and respected.

A big heart and helping hand
Evelyn Stedman, a neighbor and friend of the Nibbelins from more than 45 years, will miss the neighbor who often brought tomatoes from his garden to share with her.

"He was a good friend and a good neighbor," said Stedman. "He did so many things for me after Dean (her late husband) was gone — just little things.

"I would say, 'Ralph, you have better things to do,' and he would always say, 'But Evelyn, I want to do it.'"

When the Nibbelins first moved to Chillicothe, they lived on Wilson by Stedman, and later, they moved into their home on Sunnyside.

"He was a good church member and seemed to be very easy going," said Stedman.

When push came to shove, Nibbelin knew a way to make the best of everything.

"He was very frugal," said Stedman. "He squeezed every penny to make two pennies. He saved everything in case he might need it."

She also said Nibbelin loved working in his yard and garden, and was generous with the produce.

In all, Stedman said she and others at the church regretted that Nibbelin never actually attended a service in the new building.

"We all feel bad because Ralph was all for buying the Jehovah Witness building," said Stedman. "He walked through it once, but he never got to go to church there."

Sharon Hollandsworth worked at Hillcrest Nursery School for 20 years with Gladys, and still visits her frequently at Heritage Manor.

When Hollandsworth attended CHS, Nibbelin was her physics teacher, and she also babysat the Nibbelin's two oldest boys.

"Ralph was so caring of Gladys, so caring and tender,"she said.

Each time she visited the Nibbelins at their home, Nibbelin anxiously explained his newest computer gizmo to her, then left for awhile so she could visit with Gladys.

"He was always cordial, even when he was not feeling well," Hollandsworth said.

Longtime friend and church member Bill Allington knew the Nibbelins since they arrived in Chillicothe.

"I was a carpenter helping remodel the old locker rooms at Chillicothe High School for a chemistry room because they were hiring a new chemistry teacher and needed another room," said Allington.

Over the years, Allington and Nibbelin served on a variety of church offices and boards. Nibbelin also mowed the church yard for many years.

"Ralph was intelligent, humorous, very sports minded and a good and likeable teacher," said Allington. "He was very dedicated to the church, and everything he did was in the best interest of the church.

"He will be missed."

Good friend, educator, coach and Plymouth Congregational Church member Mike Themas gave the eulogy at Nibbelin's funeral Friday.

Thirty-five years ago, Nibbelin, then science department chairman, interviewed Themas for the science position left after George Taylor retired.

Themas said Nibbelin "took me under his wing and provided me with much-needed guidance" that first year.

Themas noted Nibbelin earned two master's degrees and was an excellent teacher, in spite of his "bad" jokes.

At IVC, students nicknamed Nibbelin "Radioactive Ralph" and "Nuclear Nibs."

What better tribute to Nibbelin than one of those jokes used to entertain his students.

"A neutron walks into a restaurant and orders a Coke. As he is about to leave, he asks the waiter how much he owes. The waiter replies, 'For you, No Charge!'

"Our lives are richer for having known Ralph," said Themas in his eulogy. "We will miss him. God bless you, Ralph. Rest in peace. You deserve it."

Editor's note: Bulletin Bygones is a look back at a person, event or place that Chillicotheans may find interesting to see again or for the first time. The feature will be released once a week, online only. If readers would like to suggest a story to be reprinted online, email Editor Marianne Gillespie at mgillespie@timestoday.com for more information. Depending on how long ago the article ran in the pages of the Bulletin, photo quality may not be what it is today.