- November 4, 2022
Dale Hibbs, longtime Iowa City resident and more recently of McFarland, Wis., made his last kettlebell incline bench press on Nov. 2, 2022.
A celebration of Dale’s truly unique life will be hosted at Lensing Funeral and Cremation Service on Thursday, Nov. 10, from 2 to 4 p.m., with a short program at 3 p.m. At 4 p.m., we will go to The Kirkwood Room for more tall tales about the old Son of Odin.
Dale Walter Hibbs was born in Omaha, Neb., on May 31, 1940. He liked to bill himself as “a poor kid who did the best he could.” His “best he could” must have been pretty good because he was the first to graduate college in a family of upholsterers, milkmen and custodians. He earned his B.A. from The University of Nebraska, his M.A. from The University of Northern Iowa and additional college credits from the University of Iowa. But the best decision he ever made on the planet was to marry Kristin Lucas of Winterset, Iowa, in 1969. Dale’s best friend, legendary City High Principal Howard Vernon said that Dale was “a rough-tough, throw-down kind of guy until he met Kristin, and she mellowed him out… sort of.” Their marriage was blessed with two sturdy sons, Jonathan and Matthew.
Dale taught high school for 42 years, thirty of those at City High and he loved every minute of it. Former Iowa City Superintendent Lane Plugge called him, “Mr. City High” for all his contributions to the school. Dale was proud to be a little hawk. Howard Vernon again “At City High, I had some great teachers, but Mr. Hibbs was absolutely the very best. I gave him the wild bunch and he gave me solid citizen.”
Dale distinguished himself by being an A+ teacher (KCRG award) by creating “Hibbs Hell,” a nationally recognized forum where students made politicians sweat blood; for flexing his mighty muscles at City-West pep assemblies before predicting another red and white victory; for breaking up most of the big fights; for his “goopers” (6,000 calories of lard and sugar with no socially redeeming value) that he awarded his weekly stock market winners; and for being selected by the seniors to give the graduation speech more times than any Iowa City teacher in history. In 2011, Dale was the Grand Marshall of the Iowa City Homecoming Parade and was inducted into the City High Hall of Fame.
In addition to teaching, Dale distinguished himself in other areas. He felt it was vitally important that education have real life experiences to call on and lamented the fact that so few did. Dale was the first Iowa City teacher to be elected to the Iowa Legislature (the Des Moines Register called him the maverick legislator who put his district ahead of his party); was the president of the Iowa City Teachers Association during some explosive times; had two radio shows on KCJJ, “Just wondering” and “Your turn Johnson County”; was a professional booking manager and cut-man with his oldest son and was a lifelong weightlifter and personal trainer at North Dodge Athletic Club.
Dale is survived by his wife, Kristin of McFarland, Wis.; his two sons, Jonathan (Natalie) and grandchildren, Vincent and Freya of McFarland, Wis., and Matt (Allison) of Archibald, Pa.; his brother, Bill (Jan) and niece, Annie (Erik) and their son, Arne of Minneapolis, Minn.; and his sister, Betsy of West Des Moines, Iowa.
His other brother, Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Robert Hibbs, was killed in Vietnam. His parents, Betty and Walt Hibbs of Cedar Falls, Iowa, died earlier.
Instead of memorials, Dale wants you to plant a tree (maples were his favorite) and feed the birds and critters.
As Dale said, “It was a wonderful ride.”