The Newnan Occasions-Herald’s information editor, Winston Skinner, shares his ideas about his good friend, Virginia Caldwell Hibbs, widow of novelist Erskine Caldwell, who died Sunday.
For 3 many years, Virginia Moffett Caldwell Hibbs, was married to Coweta-born novelist Erskine Caldwell, and for 3 extra she stored cautious watch over his legacy.
Virginia Hibbs died Sunday afternoon. As Caldwell’s spouse, she soothed and inspired the generally temperamental author and inspired him to return to the Southern themes that had marked his early successes. After he died in 1987, she labored to get his novels again in print and helped burnish his literary legacy. She was immensely useful in launching and sustaining the Erskine Caldwell Birthplace and Museum in Moreland.
When she died, she was a member of the Moreland Cultural Alliance board. MCAA oversees tourism actions in Moreland together with the Caldwell residence and the Hometown Heritage Museum, which features a tribute to Lewis Grizzard.
I met Virginia within the early 1980s when Caldwell was writer-in-residence on the DeKalb County libraries. I went as much as Stone Mountain to listen to him converse. Afterward, I launched myself, and we talked about Coweta County. Caldwell informed me they’d been down right here and had discovered White Oak Presbyterian Church however couldn’t find the home the place he was born.
After I subsequently despatched them copies of an article I wrote about Caldwell’s birthplace, Virginia wrote to ask if I may share copies to ship to his kids. She additionally expressed an curiosity in seeing the home restored. Caldwell’s father was a Presbyterian minister, and he or she referred to the small, clapboard farmhouse as “the Little Manse.”
On the time Virginia and I corresponded in 1987, Erskine Caldwell was dying. When efforts started to maneuver the home to Moreland and restore it, Virginia was 100 % on board. She got here for Moreland’s July four celebration in 1990 and signed copies of books by and about Caldwell. In a phone dialog that Might, she informed me, “I do know that he would have been there.”
She returned in 1992 when the museum – nonetheless unfinished – was devoted. By that point, she had married to Ralph Hibbs, a retired doctor. Ralph usually shared his medical experience on mission journeys, and he wrote a e book about his wartime experiences on the Bataan dying march.
It was on that journey that Lynn and I and our daughters, Sallie and Jane, turned actual associates with Ralph and Virginia Hibbs. Virginia and I’d discuss on the phone each few months – at all times referring to what was happening on the museum and within the Caldwell world, but additionally speaking about our households – generally about politics or faith, too.
I keep in mind some very considerate reflections from Virginia concerning the inevitability of growing older – and its pluses and minuses.
Virginia had grown up the daughter of a Seventh-Day Adventist pastor. She informed me that she and her sister had questioned at occasions concerning the life her dad and mom had chosen, reflecting on their monetary struggles. Virginia stated that at her father’s funeral, when an enormous variety of folks got here to inform her what a distinction her dad and mom had made of their lives, she understood what her father’s life and ministry had actually meant.
Virginia’s stepmother, Promise Moffett, was the daughter of Jethro Kloss, who wrote a pure meals cookbook, “Again to Eden,” which has loved one thing of a revival lately.
Now and again, Virginia despatched objects for the museum’s assortment. One was a giclee print of a portray she did for Erskine. Virginia had studied artwork on the Maryland Institute of Artwork and on the Farnsworth Faculty of Artwork in Sarasota, Fla. She illustrated two of Caldwell’s books, “Round About America” and “Afternoons in Mid-America” and continued portray in Oregon, the place she moved after Caldwell’s dying.
She had inspired Caldwell to write down two kids’s books. She traveled with him for “In Search of Bisco,” the one e book by Caldwell with a concentrate on his early days in Coweta County. It was additionally throughout their marriage that he wrote “Deep South,” which delved into the intricacies and peculiarities of Southern faith.
In 1997, Lynn, Sallie, Jane and I spent a number of days of a West Coast trip in Oregon with Ralph and Virginia in Medford, the place they made their residence, and Brookings, the place Ralph had a really nice seashore home. All of us have particular reminiscences of that point, and I’m grateful I bought to know Ralph’s son, Jack, who stays a good friend in the present day.
Virginia and I’ve not talked as a lot lately. She known as and we talked a very long time after the dying of her beloved grandson, Brian Erskine Fletcher, in a snowboarding accident in 2014. Virginia’s son, Drew Fletcher, has a web site that pays tribute to Erskine Caldwell.
Two of Erskine Caldwell’s kids, Jan Gooding and Dr. Jay Caldwell, who was type sufficient to let me know Virginia had handed away, survive. There are also grandchildren and stepchildren from her marriage to Ralph Hibbs and step-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren.
Although she lived throughout the continent, I’ll miss Virginia Caldwell Hibbs. It at all times felt as if she had been an angel wanting over our shoulders as we sought to memorialize Erskine Caldwell in Moreland. Now, I assume she actually is.
At this time, I consider her perception into life, her dedication to Erskine Caldwell’s function within the literary firmament – and most of all, her friendship. I’ll miss her.