James Portis Ribble
July 23, 1931 – July 30, 2020
Our beloved father, James Portis Ribble, went to be with his Lord on July 30th, 2020 at the age of 89. He was born July 23rd, 1931 in Graham, Texas to O.C. and Ruth Ribble. He had an older adopted brother, Sam, one younger brother, Orville, and one sister Leota. He formed his early childhood attachments in the small rural community churches of South Bend and Millsap, Texas. His mother must have felt the calling for him for she named him Portis after a young man she knew at college who was a good speaker. During the depression, when he was five years old, she paid five dollars a week and drove him round trip about thirty miles for speech lessons with Miss Lela De Roch. When Portis was in the ninth grade he began traveling with brother N.O. White to Arkansas and Oklahoma during the summers and would lead singing for the meetings that Brother White held. In 1946, his family moved to a farm north of Weatherford. Portis graduated from Weatherford High School in 1948 and went on to attend Weatherford College for 2 years on a ministerial scholarship given by the Methodist Church. He was ordained to the ministry on October 26th, 1948 by Brother N.L. Clark. He graduated from Weatherford College in 1950, and began traveling with Brothers Alva Johnson and Van Bonneau, conducting meetings with them and leading singing. The biblical education he received from these men became the foundation of his ministry for the rest of his life. He began his career as a full-time located Minister on April 1st, 1951 in Amarillo Texas making $200 a month. He married Dorothy Edwards in 1952 while working with the Forest Hill Church in Amarillo where he preached until 1955. He then moved his family to San Angelo, Texas to work with the Northside Church. In 1959, he moved his family back to Amarillo to start a new church, Anna Street Church of Christ, which opened in August of 1959 and he remained there for nine years. During that time, he attended classes at West Texas State University where he received both his bachelor's degree and his master's degree. For five years while at the Anna Street Church, he delivered a televised Christian message which aired every Sunday morning on the church sponsored program called Christ For the World We Sing. He moved his family back to San Angelo in 1968 to work with the West Angelo Church of Christ and in 1969, he and Bill Leach established what would become the Southwest Bible Institute. He became the president of SBI in 1978 and held that position until his death. Portis trained many young men to preach the word who are still preaching today. He gained certification from the National Christian Counselor Association, and was, for several years, a member of the Ministerial Association. He served as president of that organization for one of those years. He has been instrumental in training chaplains for work at the Shannon Hospital, and was also active with the Tom Green County Jail Ministry, baptizing numerous souls there. In 1992, he began work again with the Northside Congregation until his “official” retirement in July of 1996. During his life, he held gospel meetings in 12 different states, and the highlight of his career was being able to minister in the Ukraine in January 1992, at which time 70 people were baptized during the campaign in Kiev. One of his biggest enjoyments was flying his own Cherokee 140 which he bought in the early seventies. He had over 600 flying hours before he eventually sold the plane to a local doctor. He and Dorthy had three children and their marriage lasted some thirty years, but ended in the mid 1980’s. In June of 1995, he married Helen Malechek Robison, who became the love of his life. Portis and Helen traveled together to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Alaska, Thailand, Hawaii, Australia, the Greek Islands, New Zealand and more until their health prevented further travels. He always said that Helen was his most wonderful traveling companion. They celebrated twenty-five years together in June of this year. He continued to preach regularly at area churches, even traveling to Eldorado and Weatherford monthly. He never could retire fully. We estimate the number of souls he brought to Christ to be in the thousands, and although he regretted not keeping better records, to him it never really mattered who baptized a person. He always humbly acknowledged that it may have been the teaching of someone else that led a person to Christ. His children and grandchildren were captivated by his many stories and his humor. There is so much more to his life than what can be conveyed in these few words. He loved and was loved by many. He lived a long and fulfilled life. His headstone says, “He loved life, and saw good days,”—his own words. Upon learning that his illness was terminal, he said, “I lived my whole life for this.” And he did. Portis is preceded in death by his parents, O.C. and Ruth Ribble, and his adopted brother, Sam Ribble. He is survived by his wife, Helen Malechek Robison Ribble of San Angelo; his ex-wife, Dorthy Hawkes and husband Ron of San Angelo; his brother, Orville Ribble and wife Francis of Weatherford, Texas; his sister, Leota Means and husband Sam of Austin. His children: daughter, Darla Schitoskey and husband Terry of Providence Village, Texas; daughter, Bonnie Kennedy of San Angelo; and son, Charles Portis Ribble of San Angelo. His step-children: Bobbi Thompson and husband, Raphael of Newnan, Georgia; Mark Bradbury and wife, Kara of Oak Point, Texas. He is also survived by grandchildren: Jason Schitoskey; Amber Scott and husband, Jon; Jasmine Ward and husband Joseph; Krista Thomsen and husband Chris; Tucker Green and wife Jocelyn; Jamie Sneed and husband Jordan; and Marilyn Ribble. Step-grandchildren: Haley Green and husband Scott; Alexis Casari and husband Kiel; Twelve great-grandchildren: Danny, Claire, Anthony, Joel, Joshua, Jaelyn, Skyler, Ashley, Garen, Channing, Tanis, and Corren; a great-great grandchild, Joel, born on July 21st, and one step great-great grandchild due in January. He also had numerous nieces and nephews who were special to him.
The family wishes to extend our sincere thanks to Dr. Raj Cheruku, the 5th floor unit staff of Shannon Medical Center, and Hospice of San Angelo, Texas. Memorial donations can be made to Southwest Bible Institute (SBI) care of West Angelo Church of Christ. Cards can also be sent to West Angelo Church of Christ at 3200 San Antonio St. San Angelo, Texas 76901. Flowers can be sent to Johnson’s Funeral Home at 435 W. Beauregard Ave. San Angelo, Texas 76903. In lieu of a visitation, Johnson’s has set up a registry area for those who would like to pay their respects by signing his book.
A small, closed family service will be held on August 8, 2020 at 2:00 pm. The service will be streamed live through the West Angelo Church of Christ Facebook page. There will be a second memorial held at Eastside Church of Christ in Weatherford, Texas, date to be decided. Portis will be laid to rest among family in Gooseneck Cemetery in Bunger, Texas.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
James Portis Ribble
August 8, 2020
Dear Family, May our Lord comfort and encourage each of you. Portis has left a great legacy and has blessed many. I shall always remember and be grateful for his mentorship.
Blessings In Christ . . .
August 8, 2020
Brother Portis has been a friend of our family for years. To say he was an inspiration to my mother, father, and myself would be inadequate and a gross understatement. I do not know a more Godly man. If my father were well I know he would agree as to the character and love that Portis passed to all those with whom he shared God’s love.
August 7, 2020
My wife, Doris, and I first met Portis and Helen in 1998 when we were blessed to travel with them to Greece and Turkey on a "Footsteps of Paul" journey. It was such a wonderful trip, and it was made even better by Portis' sharing of the gospel everywhere we went.
We have been in touch with them ever since that trip. Portis was a man that one would just naturally respect and admire. I was blessed to have a telephone conversation with him 4 days before The Lord took his faithful servant home.
May God bless Portis Ribble and his family.
August 6, 2020
Portis was always a good friend,when my son passed away in January of 1996,Portis gave me great comfort,he helped me through this death. He has been a friend to my family for many years.My Mother also went through a divorce about the same time Portis did,he gave her comfort through this.My husband David loved Portis and had just begun going to SBI.He would come home from class smiling and talking about how awesome Portis was.We are broken hearted ,but we know Heaven has gained a wonderful angel.
August 5, 2020
I have so many fond memories of uncle portis. He was a great man that cared deeply for all of us. I will always be the most thankful to him for taking his time to come and do my marriage for me. I know at the time he rearranged a lot of things to do it for me and it ment the world to me to have him there and to speak. I love you so much fly high and please keep watch over all of us. Love penny
Scott and Jane Johnson
August 3, 2020
Good-bye dear friend and brother. We will join you soon in the 4th dimension! Loved our time on earth with you spanning 70 years! Your contribution to God’s kingdom on earth has been noteworthy and indeed recognized by our Father—-thank you for our special times!!
August 3, 2020
I enjoyed my long friendship with Portis so much. Many times he or I made a special efforts to spent time visiting together. We had deep common interests in ministry matters. I had high respect for his professional, compassionate and dignified conduct of his ministry. Many others felt that same respect. He helped countless lives. He was a masterful story-teller and that enriched the time spent with him. I thank God that he gave Portis a long life and allowed him to do what he loved best until almost the very end, then spared him from the misery of lingering helplessness. He and Helen have been a great pair and she a great partner in his ministry. May God secure and bless her in the path ahead.
August 3, 2020
I have known Portis since the 1950s when he came to preach at Forest Hills in Amarillo. As I was aspiring to become a minister, Portis mentored me. He took me with on some trips. I have always appreciated him, learned from him,and and loved him. It was great to have a telephone conversation just 3 or 4 days before his home going. Looking forward t seeing him again.
August 3, 2020
With deepest sympathy to the family.
Donnie, Michell and Misti
Judy Malechek Solomon
August 2, 2020
My condolences to the family of Portis. Anyone that knew Portis had memories of a kind and gentle man. Portis preached all my families services beginning in the mid 1950's when he was a young man. My father passed away during Thanksgiving holidays and Portis was on vacation so he was not available for that service. Portis became a relative when he married my cousin, Helen. I visited with him in November at a family reunion, so glad that I saw him. I am sorry he had to leave, but he left a lasting impression on many. God Bless you Portis Ribble. Love, Judy
August 2, 2020
Portis loved the Lord and was a very Sweet Kind Man Helen and Portis made me feel as special as a family member he will be missed by me
Kitty Ribble Richards
August 2, 2020
So proud to have called him “uncle”. Gone too soon. Walking the streets of gold! Love you . Prayers for the family and all his friends and associates.