The Fresno Pacific University community gathered virtually January 21, 2021, for a service to remember and honor Billie Jean Wiebe, Ph.D., associate professor of communication and English and director of the communication program. She died Wednesday, December 23, 2020, at her home in Clovis.

The service included the performance of an original musical composition and a portrait of Billie Jean by Chris Janzen, MFA, assistant professor of art, and two poems read by Fran Martens Friesen, M.A., assistant professor of humanities. The poems were "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver and "The Peace of Wild Things" by Wendell Barry, two of Billie Jean's favorite poets. A copy of the program and a transcript of comments by viewers are also available.

Digital painting titled "Billie Jean Wiebe" by Chris Janzen

To create an educational legacy in Billie Jean’s honor, the academic and advancement teams are pleased to announce the launch of the Billie Jean Wiebe Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship will honor her work and life by providing financial assistance to FPU undergraduate students working toward a B.A. in either communication or English, have a financial need, maintain a 3.00 CUM GPA and reflect the moral and ethical standards of Fresno Pacific University. Contingent on adequate donor participation, it is the goal of the university that this becomes an endowed scholarship ($10,000 minimum), providing a perpetual source of financial aid for future students.

Born Billie Jean Utting in Hillsboro, KS, December 27, 1951, where she was baptized in 1964, Billie Jean graduated from Fresno Pacific College in 1974 and married Richard Wiebe that same year. Also a 1974 graduate, he taught philosophy at Fresno Pacific for many years.

Billie Jean earned an M.A. from Northwestern University and a Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University. She joined the Fresno Pacific faculty in 1992 after teaching for several years at Immanuel High School, Reedley, and was a favorie among students for her care for them and interest in their lives as well as their education, and a respected voice among the faculty.

Among those surviving Billie Jean are Richard, his sister Ann Wiebe, and Billie Jean’s siblings Stan Utting and wife Kathy and sister Mary Booker. Also remembering her are generations of students she cherished.

Other opportunities to honor Billie Jean include posting—or reading—a memory or tribute.

Scholarship donations can be made either online or by check. To donate by check, make the check payable to Fresno Pacific University with the notation “Billie Jean Wiebe Memorial Scholarship” in the memo section and mail it to University Advancement, Fresno Pacific University, 1717 S. Chestnut Avenue, Fresno, CA 93702-4709.   


Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations