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Dr. James Orval Filbeck, longtime professor of education, dies

For immediate release
March 31, 2006

Dr. James Orval Filbeck, known to friends and family as "Orval," died Wednesday, March 29 at age 93. He was a longtime professor of education at Abilene Christian University.

After a 37-year teaching career at ACU, Filbeck remained involved in the community and with the university. After retirement, he helped establish the Abilene Clean and Proud program for the City of Abilene. He was well known for organizing teams of volunteers to clean up trash and mow rights-of-ways along Judge Ely Boulevard.

In 1996 he received the Alumni Faculty/Staff Award for exemplary and sustained service to students and alumni. In 1997 he was inducted into the ACU Sports Hall of Fame. An avid ACU athletic booster, he was the seventh person to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for special contributions to ACU sports.

In his 37 years of teaching at ACU, Filbeck taught more than 14,000 students. He served as chairman of the Department of Education, director of student teacher certification and director of summer session for the university.

Concerning his career, Filbeck said, "I wanted to give my life to the education of Christian young people and give our children the advantages of such. Since our children married Christians, the objectives seem to have been reached."

Dr. Bob Hunter, vice president emeritus at ACU, said, "Dr. Filbeck was not only one of the most dedicated faculty members ACU has ever known, but he also was a great personal friend to former students, parents and other friends of the university."

Filbeck prepared four institutional reports for the Texas Education Agency and served on five Texas education evaluation teams, twice as chairman. He prepared three institutional reports for the National Council for the Accreditation for Teacher Education and served on 14 NCATE evaluation teams, 11 times as chairman. He was listed in the 1971 edition of "Outstanding Educators in America."

He served as past president of the Taylor County chapter of the Texas State Teachers Association, Abilene Mental Health Association and the Abilene Boys Ranch. He also was an active member of the Abilene Rotary Club, and he was honored in 2002 on his 90th birthday for 50 years of perfect attendance to Rotary meetings.

He preached for Churches of Christ in Huntsville, Belton, San Marcos, Eastland and other cities over several decades.

Filbeck was born July 30, 1912, near Springfield, Mo., to William and Maggie Jewel (Humble) Filbeck. He graduated from high school there in 1929. He attended Southwest Missouri State University and Freed-Hardeman College before receiving his bachelor's degree in mathematics and master's degree in education from East Texas State University in 1937 and 1938. He received his doctorate from the University of Texas in 1944.

He married Edith Marie Barnes in Terrell on June 14, 1938. She taught elementary school for 10 years before marrying Filbeck to become wife, mother and homemaker. They had one son, James William, and one daughter, Janice Marie.  Dr. Filbeck lovingly cared for Marie during her lengthy illness before she died on December 18, 1993.  He married Imogene Siburt on June 17, 2000.  They happily resided at Christian Village of Abilene, often playing "88" with friends until his death.

They were members of University Church of Christ in Abilene where he taught a men’s Bible class for 27 years and also served as an elder.

He is survived by wife Imogene Siburt Filbeck, son Dr. Jim Filbeck and wife Peggy of Irving; daughter Janice and Louis Stone of Richardson; grandchildren Jim Jr. and wife Robin Filbeck, Paige and husband Patrick Hillis, Jared and wife Tracey Filbeck, Chad and wife Melanie Stone, Corey and wife Lisa Stone and Jennifer Stone; two sisters Ruth Charles and Dorothy Haskins, both of Springfield, MO and eight great grandchildren.  Also surviving are three step-children: Mrs. Elva Devers of Canyon, Mrs. Myra Siburt Holmans and husband Jim of Abilene, and Dr. Charles Siburt and wife Judy of Abilene; six step-grandchildren and 10 step-great grandchildren.

Visitation will be Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Elliott-Hamil Funeral Home, 542 Hickory.  The funeral service will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at University Church of Christ with Dr. Eddie Sharp officiating.  A reception will follow the service at the church.  The internment will be private in Elmwood Memorial Park.

At the family's request, a scholarship fund for junior and senior education majors has been established at ACU called the Orval Filbeck Scholarship Fund for Education.  Memorials to honor Filbeck can be sent to this fund at ACU Box 29132, Abilene, TX 79699.



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