The Lord in His infinite wisdom called to Himself in heaven the soul of His servant John Henry Schibbelhut on May 1, 2019 at the age of 85 years, 2 months, and 27 days. John was granted the privilege of spending the last days of his life at home under the care of his wife Lydia, son, Tim, and other members of his loving family.
John was born in Lamar, Colorado, on February 4, 1934, to Henry and Eva (Grauberger) Schibbelhut. He became a child of God through holy baptism on February 25, 1934. He renewed his baptismal vows and confessed his faith in the Triune God and in Jesus Christ as his Savior when he was confirmed as a member of the Ev. Lutheran Church by Pastor Herbert Witt of Mt. Olive Lutheran Church on May 23, 1948. His confirmation verse: “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs”, Ps. 100:2.
John’s early childhood was spent on farms in the Lamar, Colorado, area. He attended country schools for his elementary education and graduated from McClave High School in 1951. After a year at Lamar Junior College, he transferred to Dr. Martin Luther College (now Martin Luther College), New Ulm, Minnesota, graduating from there in 1957. After graduation, he was assigned as teacher/principal to St. James Lutheran School, Golden, Colorado, where wife Lydia also taught the lower grades for one year. During his forty-six years in the teaching ministry, he also served as teacher/principal at Trinity Lutheran Elementary and Junior High School in Crete, Illinois; teacher/principal at Winnebago Lutheran Academy in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin; professor and supervisor in the five-year STEP (Secondary Teacher Education Program) at (D)MLC in New Ulm, Minnesota. Throughout all those years, his dear wife was a constant companion, mentor and partner in his teaching ministry. “I could not have done it without her God-given help.” John enjoyed studying and was blessed with a lifelong zeal for learning and growth in his teaching profession. He attended numerous workshops, summer school sessions, and took many post-grad classes throughout his teaching years. He often remarked that the most satisfying graduate work he did was attending Summer Quarter at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wisconsin, for seven summers, which culminated in a Masters of Arts in Religion degree.
John met his wife, Lydia Hackbarth, at Dr. Martin Luther College. They were married in 1957 by Lydia’s father, Pastor Herbert Hackbarth at Peace Ev. Lutheran Church in Echo, Minnesota, and enjoyed over sixty-one years of God’s blessings together. God blessed them with six children: Timothy, Beth Wrobel (Steve), Johanna Berg (Jeffrey), Martin (Lynne), Kristina Strasser (William) and Gregory (Wendy). They were also blessed with 20 grandchildren (two who died at birth are already in heaven) and four (soon to be five) great grandchildren. In 2002, John and Lydia retired to Barre Mills, WI after some subtle prompting from their children. For over ten years in retirement, John worked as a cook in the local West Salem Kwik Trip store. He enjoyed those years: “No homework, no lesson plans, no papers to correct!” He also helped with chores and field work on the next-door farm of his daughter, Johanna, and son-in-law, Jeffrey, as time permitted. John and Lydia enjoyed almost seventeen years of retirement with yard and garden work and also with being able to follow various activities of some of the grandchildren. He was known for his pronounced western drawl (which was gradually “Wisconsinized”), his sense of humor and his infectious laugh. A gracious God gifted him with a love of history and learning in general, a humble patience, and a Christ-centered perspective which served him well in his profession and in his family.
John lived with several health issues in his latter years, but the leukemia (CLL) became more pronounced in early winter and weakened his quality of life. He remained active as long as possible. The family thanks Pastors Schultz and Lindholm for their comforting devotions and communion, and the many doctors and nurses at Gundersen Health System for their dedicated care and concern. He and his family also received much comfort and strength through the many prayers and well wishes of former students, colleagues, friends, relatives and St. John’s church members these past months. In addition to his wife and children, John is survived by sibling, Marie Hollis of Texas; siblings-in-law, Eunice (Hackbarth) Owens, Grace (Hackbarth) Anderson, Hilbert Hackbarth, Lois (Hackbarth) Frieling (Wouter), and Arthur Hackbarth (Judy) of Minnesota; Frederick Hackbarth (Ronda) of Wisconsin and numerous cousins, nephews, nieces and other relatives. John was preceded in death by brothers-in-law, William Hollis of Texas and Milton Owens of Minnesota; sisters-in-law, Charlotte Hackbarth and Rachel (Hackbarth) Seebach of Minnesota.
A Christian funeral will be conducted for John at 11:00 a.m., Monday, May 6th, at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Barre Mills, and his earthly remains committed to the ground in the church cemetery, there to await the glorious resurrection promised by our Lord Jesus Christ: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whosever lives and believes in me will never die”. TO GOD ALONE BE THE GLORY! Visitation will be held from 9:00 a.m. until the time of service on Monday at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested for St. John’s Lutheran Church; Christ-St. John’s Lutheran School; Luther High School; Martin Luther College; WELS Church Extension Fund; Zion Lutheran Church of Gainesville, FL, building fund.