Benjamin Manly McKibbens

Benjamin Manly McKibbens peacefully entered his heavenly home on March 2, 2020, in Mobile, Alabama, surrounded by his beloved family and friends.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky to parents, the Reverend Dr. Thomas McKibbens and Betty Manly McKibbens, Ben and his brother, Tom, grew up in Laurel, Mississippi, where Ben developed his lifelong interest in camping and all sports, especially football. 

Ben enjoyed telling the story of “the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.”  He saw Loren across a High School football field with his college roommate while visiting Forest, Mississippi.  He told his companions “I’m going to marry that girl!” Ben and Loren Ormond were married on June 17, 1966.  They were blessed with four children, seven grandchildren, and shared a wonderful life of faith and service.

Ben graduated from Mississippi College, the University of Alabama’s Healthcare Administration graduate program, and completed his residency at the Mobile Infirmary Medical Center. Throughout and following his long and successful career in healthcare administration, Ben was known for his exceptional servant leadership, instructed by his deep faith and strong values. His passion for teaching and helping uplifted all who came into his path, be they patients, friends, or strangers.

Multiple longstanding institutions and programs are testimony to Ben’s extraordinary organizational development skills and commitment. He served as President and CEO of the Valley Baptist Health System in Harlingen, Texas for 25 years, overseeing a time of unprecedented growth in structures and service. Both Harlingen’s Golden Palms Retirement Center and the Family Practice Program, now named for Ben and Loren Ormond McKibbens, are results of his vision and leadership. His service as a preceptor for graduate programs in Healthcare Administration with Trinity University and the University of Alabama gives testimony to his dedication to help develop future generations of healthcare leaders. Following retirement, he was Founder and Executive Director of the Healthcare Outreach Network, a faith-based network serving to connect healthcare resources with needs worldwide, providing supplies, equipment, training, and programs to clinics, hospitals and medical missions across the globe. Another mission close to his heart is the family owned Camp Hollymont for Girls, in Black Mountain, North Carolina. He loved visiting the mountains of North Carolina, because of a love he continued throughout his life for Camps Ridgecrest, Rockmont, and Hollymont.  

A fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, Ben served as the President of the Texas Baptist Hospital Association, chairman of the Texas Hospital Association, the Baptist Hospital Association, and the Voluntary Hospitals of America, Inc. He also served as a board member for the Texas Health Institute and as well as for his alma mater, Mississippi College, where he was an Alumnus of the Year.  He recently retired as a board member of the Westminster Retirement Center in Spanish Fort, Alabama. In addition to his extensive leadership in healthcare throughout the nation, Ben was a committed community servant wherever he lived, and was especially active in Baptist churches as a Deacon and Sunday School teacher. He received countless awards for his service throughout his lifetime.

Ben was a devoted husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, dear friend, and leader, Ben will be missed by all who were touched by his inner strength and kindness. His surviving family includes spouse, Loren Mitchell Ormond McKibbens; his four children and their respective spouses: Benjamin Manly “Kib” McKibbens, Jr. and spouse, Anna Laurie Bryant McKibbens; Loren Mitchell “Missy” McKibbens Roper (widow of the late Dr. John T. Roper, Jr.)  and their daughter, Loren Jane; Merridy McKibbens Sims, and spouse, Terry Bartelli Sims, and their children, Benjamin Steele, Oliver Spence, Douglas McKibbens “Trice,” and John Tyke Bartelli; and Woods Ormond McKibbens and spouse, Virginia Thomas McKibbens, and their children, Anne Grace and Woods Thomas; and brother, the Reverend Dr. Tom McKibbens and spouse Donna, and nieces and nephews, George McKibbens and spouse, Sisi, and their children, Tayron and Constance and niece, Katherine McKibbens; and sister in law, Jan Ormond Sherman, and spouse, Larry Sherman, and their children, Charlie Sherman and Cory Sherman Stewart, and spouse, Jeff, and their son, Nate.

Funeral services were held at the First Baptist Church, 300 South S. Section Street, Fairhope, Alabama, 36532 on Friday, March 6, 2020, at 2:00 p.m., with visitation with the family preceding the service at 1:00 p.m. at the First Baptist Church. Officiating the service was Drs. Jerry Henry and Eric Hankins of Fairhope with remarks from the Reverend Dr. Tom McKibbens of Worcester (MA), and Richard Wash of Robertsdale (AL), Ren Hinote of Montrose (AL), and Leidy Vicuna of Mobile (AL). Other participants include Randy Fleuriet and Dr. Bruce Leibert of Harlingen (TX).

Pallbearers included; Ralph Jennings and Ed Ahrens of Fairhope (AL), Bob Dunkin of Harlingen (TX), Judge Tom Lee and Scott Palmer of Forest (MS), David Bruce of Black Mountain (NC), John McCormick of Jackson (MS), JB Horst of Point Clear (AL), Jim Merritt of Point Clear (AL), Terry Sims, Steele Sims and Spence Sims of Point Clear, (AL). Honorary pallbearers included class deacons, Bob Glennon, Waynard White, Harold Burkholder, members of the Friendship Sunday School class, Hartie Spence of Baton Rouge (LA), and George Pickering of Black Mountain (NC). Memorial gifts honoring Ben’s memory may be made to the First Baptist Church Children’s Ministry, 300 South S. Section Street, Fairhope, Alabama, 36532; Camp Hollymont for Girls Scholarship Fund, 475 Lake Eden Rd., Black Mountain, North Carolina, 28711; or to the Rio Grande Valley Medical Missions, 118 N. Nueces Park Lane, Harlingen, Texas, 78552.