Rev. Dr. John Bernard Hibbitts

May 12, 1918March 24, 2012

Rev. Dr. John Bernard Hibbitts - 93, died Saturday March 24th in the Halifax Infirmary, QEII. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the son of John T. and Ethel A. (Wambolt) Hibbitts (of Mount Uniacke and Halifax), he graduated from the Nova Scotia Normal College with a Superior First Class teaching certificate and a scholarship. He taught in the Nova Scotia schools as teacher and principal. He was employment agent responsible for hiring at the Halifax Shipyards, then with 3000 workers. He entered Dalhousie University, graduating with highest honours, the Governor General’s Gold Medal and the university medal for highest standing in Arts and Science. He received his MA in English in 1946. He was for many years an honorary judge for the Hon. W.H. Dennis prizes in prose and verse at Dalhousie, one of which he had won as a student. He lectured in the English Seminar at the University of Bonn, in Germany. He entered the Divinity School of the University of King’s College and obtained a master’s degree in Sacred Languages, Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. He enrolled in the General Theological Seminary, New York, where he was ordained an Episcopal (Anglican) priest and appointed a Fellow and Tutor in 1948 and received masters’ degrees in Divinity and Sacred Theology. He worked in parishes in New York, NY and Newark, NJ. He went to Oxford University as a member of University College and worked in the Oxford diocese, being acting chaplain in his college for a term. In 1954 he received his doctorate of philosophy in theology from Oxford and came to the University of King’s College as an associate professor in divinity. He held a number of offices at King’s, being Dean of Men, acting Librarian, priest in charge of King’s Chapel, professor of Biblical Studies and Dean of Divinity. He was a member of the King’s Board of Governors for 20 years. He was an examiner for degrees in Divinity for the Anglican Church of Canada and served on committees of its General Synod on theological education and ministry, was archivist for the Provincial Synod and worked on Nova Scotia diocesan committees. He wrote for international, national, and local publications and was a member of international and national learned theological societies. His lectures on Henry Hammond, a Caroline divine, given at Evanston, Illinois, were published. In 1971 he began teaching at the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax as professor of Scripture Studies, where he remained until his retirement in 1983, although he continued to teach part-time until 1987. In his later years he began the study of Spanish and traveled frequently to South America, especially Chile. During his teaching career he taught clergy and laypeople of many Christian churches, including Salvation Army officers and Greek Orthodox priests, and in his own denomination nearly a dozen future bishops in Canada, the United States, Japan, Pakistan and Nigeria passed through his classes. In the last period of his teaching career he was beset by heart problems that he felt hampered his performance. He received honorary doctor of divinity degrees from Pine Hill Divinity Hall and from King’s where he was an Inglis Professor, an honorary title at his death. He said he had had four vocations, that of a student and scholar, that of a teacher, that of an Anglican priest, and that of a husband, father, and grandfather, all of which enhanced and broadened his life. He is survived by his children, Bernard (Carrie) Hibbitts of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Paul (Sheila) Hibbitts of New Westminster, BC; grandchildren William Hibbitts of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; and Marika June Hibbitts of New Westminster, BC. He was predeceased by his wife June and his sister Marguerite. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to J.A. Snow Funeral Home. The Funeral Eucharist will be at St. James Anglican Church at the Rotary at 10 A.M. Thursday, March 29th, the Rt. Rev. Ron Cutler (Bishop Suffragan) celebrant, assisted by the Rev. Jim Purchase and the Rev. Canon Rod Gillis. A prayer vigil will be conducted by the Rev. Canon David Boston on the preceding Wednesday evening at St. James Church at 7:00 P.M. There will be no visitation. Burial will be in St. John’s Cemetery, Fairview. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Queen Elizabeth II Foundation, St. James Anglican Church, Armdale, the University of King’s College, or any charity. The family wishes to express publicly their deep gratitude to the officiating clergy, to the physicians, nurses and staff of the Halifax Infirmary, QEII and all the physicians and staff of Halifax hospitals over the years who looked after him, to his personal family physician Dr. D. Wood, to his specialists Dr. R. Gregor, Dr. J. Sullivan, Dr. J. Wood, and especially to his caregivers Joann and Rosalie, who provided outstanding personal care and constant companionship in his final years, enhancing those with their warmth, compassion and extraordinary dedication in good times and bad. The family would also like to thank his neighbours – old and young alike – for taking the time to chat with him as he sat out on his front porch whatever the weather, and for their many other kind gestures. Lastly, the family wishes to acknowledge the many contributions of Metro Transit bus operators and Halifax cab drivers who, after he became unable to walk long distances as he had once done on his own or with his young sons, enriched his life by their service and consideration. Please visit:


  • Prayer Service Wednesday, March 28, 2012
  • Funeral Service Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rev. Dr. John Bernard Hibbitts

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Terrence Prendergast (SJ)

May 30, 2012

I was saddened to learn just yesterday of John's passing. He was an esteemed colleague, who was most encouraging to me when I began teaching at AST in 1975; we kept up a correspondence at Christmas from the time I left Halifax in 1981--always his was a word of encouragement. Though we met only fleetingly, Bernard and Paul, I know how proud he and your mother June were of your accomplishments. Please accept my condolences on your loss and extend them to your loved ones. I will keep him in my thoughts and prayers, asking that the Lord grant him a merciful judgment and grace him with the blessings of eternal life. R.I.P.

April 13, 2012

Dr. Hibbitts was our neighbour on Preston St. My sister and I babysat Paul and Bernard despite being just a few years older! In their home I was introduced to periodicals like the New Yorker, the Economist and games like chess. Most importantly, Dr. Hibbitts treated me as an adult - sought my opinions and always had interesting insights to share. He truly was a great teacher! He wrote a wonderful reference for my sister to Medical School and my love of books established in my own family and furthered by him led me to my first career as a professional librarian. What a wonderful legacy of encouraging and promoting young people! Some years later, my husband and I moved back to Preston raise our family and I had the privilege of being his neighbour again. He always took a keen interest in our family and I looked forward to hearing about his activities especially the places he traveled. In the latter years, my husband and I would actively seek to walk past his home hoping he was on his deck. We were always delighted to see him and stop for a chat. What a wonderful man with such a keen intellect but it is his kind heart I most remember and admire. My condolences to his family.
Joan Fage (nee Pushie)

David Mitchell

March 29, 2012

I have fond memories of Dr. Hibbitts' course on history of the church in England (including anecdotes about life at Oxford) and enjoyed occasional chats on campus over the next few years. I knew him as a brilliant student/scholar but had no idea he had been a school teacher/principal or employment officer. His warmth and delightful sense of humour will be missed by all who knew him.

Ruth Elizabeth Newman Smith

March 28, 2012

During my long time association with the University Kings College under five presidents I very much enjoyed my close contact with John Hibbitts. I adored the man. He was so kind and helpful to me. He used to decipher Canon Puxley's difficult dictation done on the dictaphone with much glee. Bernard and Paul were in and out of his office and I came to know them too. My warm condolences.

March 28, 2012

Jane (Ritchie) and I have fond memories of John Hibbitts. He was a priest of deep conviction and pastoral sensibility from whose attention and help I so much benefited. I hold him gratefully in my prayers as we pray that he may rest in peace and rise in glory. Fr. Winthrop and Jane Fish, Kemnay, Scotland.

March 28, 2012

We send our sympathy to the entire Hibbitts family. What a lovely neighbour Mr. Hibbitts was. Our family has lived across the street from him for 15+ years. He took the kindest interest in the lives of our children. We appreciated his concern for others, his delightful sense of humour, and his enjoyment of the comings and goings around his front porch. Even the briefest neighbourly chat with Mr. Hibbitts often brought a smile to our faces. We miss him already and will remember him always with great fondness. The porch at 1625 will never be quite the same.

Beth Abbott and Tony Charles and family


March 28, 2012

Dr Hibbitts will be remembered by some for his incisive, dry wit. His stories about life at Christ Church, Oxford in the early 1950s, and of his supervisor, Dr Claude Jenkins, were delightful and frequently hilarious. Dr Hibbitts exemplified a rare combination of a deep, traditional Anglican piety and a robust spirit of mirth.

Glen A. Gibson

March 28, 2012

I have known Bernard Hibbitts since
attending LeMarchant Elementary School
together in the 60's. Bernard and I are the best of friends, and along with that I became very close to Rev. Dr. John Hibbitts, whom I looked up to as a father like figure in my life.

From the times I would see Mr. Hibbitts sitting in his yard reading a book or weeding his flowers to reading the Globe and Mail in his study room, or having tea while listening to the radio, all the while he would entertain myself and Bernard with interesting conversations on many subjects.

Rev. Dr. John Hibbitts was a good man, and a great father. There are many words that I know I could write that would describe his generous and kind nature, but I would have to exhaust the Oford Dictionary in doing so. I will miss those wonderful moments of entering his home and saying hello. I shall miss his smile and the ever present twinkle of kindness in his eyes.

"Make me always ready to come to you
with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my Spirit may come to you without shame."

I will miss you Mr. Hibbitts. :)

March 28, 2012

My mother-in-law Priscilla Bauld(nee Raymond) lived on Jennings Street, a few houses away from Mr Hibbitts for most of her 83 years. Priscilla died on March 12, 2012. She also was an avid walker, and talked to us often about stopping to talk to John, laterly, as he sat comfortably set up on his lovely porch. They would talk about many topics, from the changing neighborhood to people they knew in common, and the changes they had both experienced in their lives. One topic that would often come up it seems, was their grandchildren, and their pride and love was evident in the retelling. We offer our condolences and sympathy at this difficult time. I feel I must make a special call out to my friend Bernie 'crazy legs' Hibbitts from high school Monday morning hockey all those years ago .....

John Annett and Mary Clare Bauld and family

March 27, 2012

As I was a King's student before I went to work and live in England, and after returning to Halifax and living near King's, I would often meet June and John Hibbitts, especially when they rented a flat that my parents owned. John was always so kind in inquiring about my parents and I wonder if Bernard remembers living in my parent's flat when he was a young boy. I know both his parents were so proud of the accomplishments of both their sons. I am sorry I lost touch with the Hibbitts in recent years and was sad to learn of John's passing.
Frances E. Dibblee