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'A treasure in our midst'
by Jason Collins
Jul 25, 2013 | 1112 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Shirley Kibler had a love of china painting and was the coordinator for many of the Joe Barnhart Foundation porcelain painting classes at Coastal Bend College. Kibler, who died Sunday at 82, is shown here at one of the classes in 2009. This photo has been digitally manipulated to remove the color aspects of the photo surrounding Kibler.
Shirley Kibler had a love of china painting and was the coordinator for many of the Joe Barnhart Foundation porcelain painting classes at Coastal Bend College. Kibler, who died Sunday at 82, is shown here at one of the classes in 2009. This photo has been digitally manipulated to remove the color aspects of the photo surrounding Kibler.
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Mary Jane Turnbow never took an art class with her longtime friend Shirley Kibler but that never stopped her from appreciating the beauty in each piece.

“She was an extremely special person,” Turnbow said. “She was so talented and so gentle.”

Kibler, 82, died Sunday, leaving what many consider a large void in the art community.

“I just wanted to buy everything that she made,” Turnbow said.

Her fondest memories of Kibler date back years when both were far younger.

“We loved to shoot doves,” Turnbow said. “Her husband and my husband went bird hunting together, and they always took their wives.

“It was a treat for all of us.”

It wasn’t until later that Turnbow discovered the talent that Kibler had and her knack for doing, well, just about anything she set her mind to do.

“She was a very tender, gentle woman,” Turnbow said.

“I hope more and more people realize what a treasure in our midst she was.”

It was 1956 when she and her husband, Alex, moved to Beeville. She taught at FMC Elementary and within the Beeville school system for 15 years.

She later taught visual art and art history at the Bee County College art department.

She retired from teaching in 1986.

When it came to art, her favorite was undoubtedly porcelain painting.

She coordinated workshops for Dr. Joe Barnhart’s Foundation from 1978 to currently.

She was a member of the Corpus Christi Hi-Lights Porcelain Art Club, State Federated PAC of Texas and served in many state offices of the federation.

Debbie Parsons (along with her husband, Mark) was one of Kibler’s art students.

“She taught you to really look at nature,” Parsons said. “She was a wonderful art teacher.

“She had a lot of friends.

“She will be dearly missed by all of her china painting friends throughout the state and country.”

Kibler was a member of the Beeville Art Association and served as president numerous times. She was a docent for the Berclair Mansion and the Beeville Art Museum.

Nancy O’Neil, current president of the Beeville Art Association, said that Kibler was the type of person who would not let anything stop her.

“She was very dedicated to what she believed in,” O’Neil said.

O’Neil said that Kibler’s love of the arts was evident in everything she did.

“It was her passion to get as many people involved in the arts and teaching people about the arts,” she said.

Kibler, who served as president of the association prior to O’Neil, continued to spend much of her time volunteering at and working at the Berclair Mansion.

“When she would give tours at the mansion, she was very focused on details in the artwork. She amazed me with the knowledge she had,” O’Neil said. “When (the mansion was open) it was very rare you did not see her name on the list for tours.

“She was out there working and giving tours and sharing her knowledge.”

O’Neil said that when she took over as president of the association she did so with confidence because she knew Kibler would be there to help.

“She was always there to offer advice,” O’Neil said. “More times than not, we would take it.

“I don’t know what I would have done without her.”

Even though Kibler might not always have agreed with the ideas, she was willing to help to make sure whatever the goal, it was accomplished.

Even in her last months, she was thinking of ways to ensure that the arts would continue in her absence.

“I do know there is going to be an emptiness within our organization without her,” O’Neil said. “During the last month or so, she was making sure everything was going to be taken care of.”

Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.

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