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Phil Bebb

Phil Bebb

Phillip Bebb: 'loveable, loving, loved'                                             

Oct. 22, 2007-Ohio University Outlook,  By Jessica Alfrey

A slow train of visitors exchanged kind smiles, strong handshakes and long embraces with one another and family members as they waited to enter Athens' First United Methodist Church for a Saturday memorial service honoring Phillip Bebb.

The 66-year-old Ohio University associate professor of history died Sept. 24 in his Athens home. 

Close to 200 friends, colleagues and students attended Saturday's service to remember the man who, in his wife's words, "took great pleasure in others' happiness." Pastor Colin Yuckman, sharing remarks prepared by Susan West, called Bebb a "lover of life and people" who enjoyed cooking and entertaining. 

Despite his time in larger cities, Bebb acquired in his 38 years here a "great love of the natural beauty of Athens," Yuckman said. And he was an enthusiastic fan of Ohio University sports.

Jim Bebb called his brother an unlikely Athenian, having been raised in Detroit and settling in Columbus while pursuing his doctorate. He thanked the Ohio University community for "accepting a displaced Michigan Wolverine, who never became a Buckeye, but certainly was a Bobcat."

He noted Bebb's passion for the Italian Renaissance and, in particular, his fondness for Michelangelo. A quote by the famous Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet fit his brother perfectly: "I am still learning."

Bebb's son Aaron remembered the goodness of his father's heart. 

"When no one else would believe in me, he would; when no one else would trust me, he would," Aaron Bebb said.

All who spoke remembered Bebb as committed to his work in the classroom, a connection he maintained by teaching at least one quarter a year after taking early retirement in 2004. He taught, among other courses, Italian Renaissance, Northern Renaissance, Intellectual History of the Italian Renaissance and Great Figures in Florence as well as specialized courses on Michelangelo and Machiavelli. He directed the department's history tutorial program for almost 30 years.

Professor Emeritus of History Charles Alexander, a longtime friend and colleague, recalled Bebb's always-cheery nature and genuine joy in the people around him.  In a fitting closing, he said, "If I had to write his epitaph, I would do it in just three words: loveable, loving, loved."

Donations may be made to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (www.namiohio.org) or the Phillip Bebb Memorial Fund in the College of Arts and Sciences (www.ohio.edu/foundation/gift.cfm).

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08/23/09 09:21 PM #1    

Yvonne Gorak (Centala)

Phil Bebb
Posted Sunday, August 23, 2009 at 5:50 PM

My daughter went to the University of Ohio so it was she who told me of Phil's death in 2007. There were long articles and lovely tributes about him in the campus newspaper.

Phil was in my freshman Spanish class, so I knew him and his laugh all through high school, though we were acquaintances, not buds. When Mary went to college in 1986, and I visited her there, I looked through the faculty list and found his name. I called, and lo! he may not have remembered me, but he played a good game, and we met, talked about Redford and OU and introduced our children.

He was kind enough to chat with my daughter now and then when they met on campus, and emailed each other occasionally even after that. Once again he and I met for coffee before Mary's graduation. We compared notes on teaching and our favorite historical characters and our kids. We emailed now and then, and he told me about his retirement and yearly visits with his third wife to Italy, the place on whose history he earned his PhD. A popular professor and a well-respected scholar--our Phil at OU.

10/17/09 03:10 AM #2    

Charles Cobb

i just remember phillip bebb seemed to be the kind of guy who would become very successful. he was at holcomb in my class. i was known as howard my middle name as my dad was charles. both my parents worked so i had to go home from school right away. i am sad to hear that he has passed away already. at my age now i have lost several people who were near and dear to me. from your article he seems to have enjoyed his life. i suppose he had a nice wife and family who miss him very much. chas

10/21/13 02:42 PM #3    

Michael G. Reissing

....R.I.P., Phil.   i remember phil more from holcomb than from redford.....  living a block over from his home on fielding, we sometimes were involved in the same childhood activities.  to this day, i still envy phil for having a job/making money as a kid.....  shining shoes in the barber shop up on six mile road near stout.  p.s.  i remember him as being quite smart, and his tenure at ohio u is admirable....  and not surprising.      mike reissing

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