The Rockford University family said goodbye to Associate Professor of Economics, Business, and Accounting Gary Lubbert who passed away on May 16, 2016 after a year-long battle with cancer. We are at a loss of words to adequately describe how beloved Gary was as a colleague, professor, mentor and friend. His enthusiasm and love for Rockford University was infectious.
Each and every day of every one of his 20 years with us, Gary truly made it a “Great day to be a Regent!”
Long-time department colleague and friend, Professor Bob Evans shared the following touching sentiments during Gary´s memorial service and has graciously provided them to be shared here.
Winston Churchill once remarked that meeting Franklin Roosevelt for the first time was like sipping your first glass of champagne.
That historical anecdote is relevant on this occasion for two reasons. First, it captures the feeling one had every time on encountering Gary. Second, it prompts us all to remember that we must not be sad today. Can you imagine Gary Lubbert wanting to be the cause of sadness for anyone? No, of course you can’t. Gary would probably prefer that we do this thing the way they do in New Orleans. So we must try to remember Gary and be happy at the same time.
First we will remember the professional Gary.
Now, of course, Gary was an excellent instructor. Just ask his students. They will remember always that bone-chilling phrase he uttered so cheerfully, “Now we´re going to have a little display of knowledge“. Gary was almost a perfect advisor. Just ask his advisees. He was a perfect colleague. Just ask his colleagues, all of whom were friends. It was difficult to know just how old Gary was. That observation is relevant because he appeared to be young enough to avoid being written off as an old codger. Yet he was seasoned enough and respected enough that younger colleagues often sought him out as a mentor.
But is the personal Gary that we will really remember.
He was a true sports fan. He loved almost all sports, some of them fanatically. But he was a principled, courageous sports fan, as he demonstrated regularly by loudly and publicly denouncing the Chicago Bears – the “Teddy Bears” – as he sneeringly called them. You have got to admire a person with the courage of his convictions.
We will each remember the nickname that Gary had for us. They were imaginative, charming nicknames. Now I believe that I held the honor of the most defamatory nickname, but Gary was such a nice guy that he never told anyone what its origin was.
We will remember the Pungent, often wildly obscene “Southemisms,” as we used to call them. You know: “I am so hungry I could…” or “It´s colder than a…” or “It´s hotter than a…” Obviously, we cannot finish any of those sentences in polite company, but Gary reveled in the effect they often had on people. When quizzed on the origin of these shockers, Gary would humbly credit a certain sibling whom he considered to be his muse, his inspiration.
We will remember Riceville, Iowa, as if we had actually visited “God´s country,” as he used to call It. Gary was proof that you can take the boy out of Iowa, but you can´t take Iowa out of the boy.
And, finally, we will remember also a certain phrase – you know the phrase. Gary had a little trouble with the accent because he wasn´t from the deep South. Join me: “Roll tide.” May God bless you, Gary.