Jean E. Sibley

Honored by:John Sibley
Brick location:E:5  map

Jean Elizabeth Oxley was born to Bernice Margaret (Robertson) and Thomas Franklin Oxley on January 13, 1926 in Kimberly British Colombia Canada. A lively, laughing girl, she grew up in Butte, Montana. Her compassionate nature and desire to ease suffering led her east to nursing school, and in 1947, she graduated from the University of Cincinnati as a registered nurse. There she met John Adams Sibley and they were married in July of 1947.

Jean worked as a nurse for several years in Chicago, Illinois, Hot Springs, Arkansas, and Rochester, Minnesota. She especially loved obstetrics, for she cherished infants and was dedicated to helping new mothers nurse their babies at a time when bottle feeding was the norm. Her great humor and warm capable hands soothed patients and friends throughout her life.

After World War II, Jean and John lived in Germany where their first daughter Jan was born in 1951. After two years of adventure abroad the family returned to the U.S. and their second child, Marguerite, was born in Rochester, Minnesota early in 1955. Later that year the Sibley’s moved to Ames, Iowa where Jean made her home for the remainder of her life. Barbara was born here in 1959. From that time on, Jean devoted her time and love to caring for her three daughters, her husband, who was a urologist at McFarland Clinic, and her mother, who moved in with them in 1960.

Jean was also an active member of the Ames community, touching the lives of many through her years of volunteer service. Her efforts on behalf of the community took many forms and included participation in the League of Women Voters, chairing the Episcopal Women's Organization, and serving on the boards of the Regional Alcohol Referral Center, the Visiting Nurses Association, and Planned Parenthood. Jean was honored to be selected a "Woman of the Year" by the Iowa Women's political Caucus. She also volunteered as a nurse during blood drives and blood pressure clinics. Her public concerns found expression as well in aiding needy women and children individually and through the Wednesday Morning Club, and in easing the sense of cultural isolation of many foreign students and their families at Iowa State University.

In the end, words cannot capture Jean's spirit. To say that she loved people, to say that she loved a good story, to try to describe the keenness of her intelligence and wit, or the maternal warmth and gentleness of her touch, or the sound of her voice, to try to characterize that big, beautiful smile, the twinkle in her eyes, and her ready laughter is somehow not enough. Jean Sibley had that very rare and wonderful ability to make people laugh, and in that same instant, make them feel valued, welcomed and loved. She enlarged and enriched the lives of her family and many others fortunate enough to have known her. Perhaps it is well enough to say that in the most important of life's lessons, Jean was a true role model. Through her example, she taught those around her the value of family and all people, the virtue of generosity and humility, the beauty of knowledge and education and the sheer pleasure of humor and laughter. Jean had the "big tent" approach to life: no matter what color, what nationality, what creed, no matter how rich or poor, how young or old, or no matter how great your need, Jean would welcome you into her heart and home.

Though plagued by health problems, Jean's final years were brightened by her three grandchildren, John Sibley Williams, Alexandra Sibley Rundle, and William Sibley Rundle.

Jean died of lung cancer at the age of 68 on November 29, 1994 in the loving arms of her husband and daughters. She will continue to live in us all.

 --John Adams Sibley
--Janet Elizabeth (Sibley) Williams
--Marguerite Louise Sibley
--Barbara Jean Sibley

Submitted on 4/95