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Obituary: Hugh W. Nibley

Published: Monday, Feb. 28 2005 2:39 p.m. MST

Hugh W. Nibley 1910 ~ 2005 Hugh Winder Nibley passed away 24 February 2005 in his Provo home of causes incident to old age. He was 94 years old. Brother Nibley was born 27 March 1910 in Portland, Oregon to Alexander and Agnes Sloan Nibley. He attended public schools in Portland, Medford, and Los Angeles, where he excelled in school and gained a life-long love of nature, art, astronomy, drama, and literature. Upon graduation from high school, 17 year old Hugh served a three year mission for the LDS Church to Germany. He later served a short-term mission to the Northern States. He earned his bachelors degree in History at UCLA in 1934, graduating summa cum laude, and his PhD at Berkeley in 1938. As a college student he belonged to the national honor society Phi Beta Kappa. Prior to the U.S. entering World War II, he taught at the consortium of colleges at Claremont, California. In 1942, he joined the Army, where he served in military intelligence. Attached to the 101st Airborne Division, he landed on Utah Beach on D-Day, fought in Holland during Operation Market-Garden, and was mapping German forces when the breakout occurred at Bastogne. Following the war, he married Phyllis Ann Draper 18 September 1946 in the Salt Lake Temple. Dr. Nibley began his teaching career that fall at Brigham Young University, where he taught history, languages, and religion. He became best known for his writings on LDS scripture which were published in Church magazines almost monthly throughout the next three decades, as well as his numerous lectures and books. His book An Approach to the Book of Mormon was used as a lesson manual for the LDS Church in 1957. He officially retired from BYU in 1975, but continued teaching until 1994. Dr. Nibley's legacy at BYU is substantial. In addition to teaching a wide variety of subjects, publishing numerous articles in both academic and LDS journals, and delivering lectures throughout the country, he helped the library acquire an extensive religious studies collection. In 1973 he was called to serve as the first director of the newly created Institute for Ancient Studies. In 2001, the Ancient Studies reading room at BYU was named in his honor. He received numerous awards, among them the David O. McKay Humanities Award in 1971, Professor of the Year in 1973, Distinguished Service Award in 1979, the Exemplary Manhood Award in 1991, and an honorary doctorate from BYU in 1983. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, which is being published by FARMS, has reached 15 volumes. He inspired an entire generation of Mormon scholars, and touched the lives of thousands of people throughout the world. Until his health declined, Brother Nibley served faithfully in the Provo 9th Ward as a Sunday School teacher and home teacher. He was preceded in death by brothers, Phillip Gordon, Fred Richard, and Alexander Sloan. He is survived by his brother, Reid Nibley (Nona) of Provo; sister, Barbara Nibley Richards (Lynn) of Pleasant Grove; wife, Phyllis Draper Nibley; eight children, Paul Sloan Nibley (Bronia) of Provo; Christina Nibley Mincek (Zdravko) of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida; Thomas Hugh Nibley of Provo; Michael Draper Nibley (Sandy) of Washington, DC; Charles Alexander Nibley (Junalee) of Salt Lake City; Rebecca Nibley of Eagle Mountain; Martha Nibley Beck of Phoenix; and Zina Nibley Petersen (Boyd) of Provo; 24 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Funeral services will be Wednesday, March 2, 2005 at 1 p.m. in the Provo Tabernacle, 90 South University Ave., Provo. Friends may call at the Walker Mortuary, 85 East 300 South, Provo Tuesday 6-9 p.m. or Wednesday from 11 a.m.-12 noon. Burial will be in East Lawn Memorial Hills Cemetery. Family condolences may be sent to www.walkerfamilymortuaries.com In lieu of flowers, family members have asked that donations be made in honor of Hugh Nibley to the C.W. Nibley Scholarship Fund at BYU to support students of Scottish descent.

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