January 17, 2024

Herman L. Kibble, Pioneer Seventh-day Adventist Chaplain, Dies at 92

Barry Black’s mentor was one of two Adventists who first reached military rank O-6.

Lori Futcher
Herman Loris Kibble died on December 27. He was the first Seventh-day Adventist to serve as head chaplain for an entire U.S. Navy carrier battle group. [Photo: Jeffery A. Lewis]

Herman Loris Kibble died on December 27 in Pasadena, California, United States. He was 92.

Kibble was born into the home of Harvey W. Kibble Sr. and Thelma L. (Winston) Kibble on July 16, 1931. At age five, Kibble was shot in the stomach with a loaded handgun that a playmate had mistaken for a toy. Miraculously, he survived.

In 1947, 15-year-old Kibble graduated from Shiloh Academy in Chicago and, after turning 16, began studying at Emmanuel Missionary College, now Andrews University. His freshman year, he won first place in an oratorical contest. Kibble took this as a sign that he should enter the ministry in the footsteps of his father and maternal grandfather.

He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1952. Kibble would later complete two master’s degrees from the same university and a doctorate from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California.

Kibble began interning at the Wadsworth Avenue Seventh-day Adventist Church (now known as University Seventh-day Adventist Church) in Los Angeles and then pastored the Ivy Avenue Seventh-day Adventist Church (now known as All Nations Seventh-day Adventist Church) in Monrovia, California.

He married Marquita Hamilton, and they had three children: Kevin, Kraig, and Kimberlee.

In 1957, Kibble was ordained and began pastoring the Philadelphian Seventh-day Adventist Church in Long Beach, California. In 1964, he was transferred to the Sunset Avenue Seventh-day Adventist Church in Pasadena, California, and led them in building the Altadena Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Kibble decided to shift his career in 1969 and began officer’s training to become a U.S. Navy chaplain. He served in the Navy for 23 years in a variety of duty stations, including two tours in Vietnam (once during the war, and once during the evacuation) and in the Persian Gulf and Antarctica.

He received many military awards, including the Presidential Unit Citation (Navy), Vietnam Gallantry Cross (Civil Actions Medal), and the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation ribbon. While in Vietnam, he risked his life to hold prayer services with service members in the Mekong Delta. This so impressed one of the young service members that he also decided to become a Navy chaplain.

Kibble was the first Seventh-day Adventist to serve as head chaplain for an entire U.S. Navy carrier battle group. He shares with Richard Stenbakken the distinction of being the first Adventist chaplains to be promoted to rank O-6 (second highest rank) in the military.

When Barry Black began serving as a young navy chaplain, Kibble became his mentor and was instrumental in Black’s selection to be the first Adventist chaplain to rise to the rank of rear admiral (O-7).

In 1993, Herman became a chaplain at the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans’ Hospital in Loma Linda, California, a post he held for 20 years.

Herman died in his home at the age of 92. He was preceded in death by his parents and three siblings: Harvey Kibble Jr.; Marie Robinson; and Alvin Kibble. He is survived by his wife, Marquita; three children and their spouses: Kevin Kibble (Gennevieve), Kraig Kibble (Holly), and Kimberlee Harvey (Edward); four grandchildren, and two siblings: W. Harold Kibble and Ann Beckett.