Wanda June Best Hibbitts, Professor Emerita of Business at the University of Southern Indiana, passed away on November 26, 2022 at her residence in Bloomington, Indiana. She was 101 years old at her death.
She was born April 26, 1921 in Indianapolis, Indiana, the oldest child of Robert and Olin Best. Wanda grew up in Owensboro, Kentucky. She took bookkeeping in high school which began her lifelong love of accounting. As an undergraduate at Western Kentucky (class of 1943) she majored in business education and met her husband, Bill Hibbitts. After graduating, she spent several years teaching bookkeeping at Lockyear’s Business College in Evansville. Realizing additional education was required to teach accounting at the university level, she became Indiana State University’s first woman to graduate with an MBA (class of 1971) and the first woman in southern Indiana to pass the CPA exam. Her pursuit of knowledge continued as she later earned a PhD in Education from the University of Southern Illinois.
In 1970 Wanda began her university teaching career at the new university in Evansville: Indiana State University-Evansville (now University of Southern Indiana). Wanda taught accounting there until her retirement in 1988. She is considered one of the “founding faculty” of USI.
Wanda was known as a demanding and caring professor. Many of her students credit her for preparing them to pass the CPA exam and to go on to successful accounting careers. She was a mentor to many faculty members, contributing to their success as well. During her tenure, Wanda received the Distinguished Professor Award from the University, the highest faculty honor bestowed upon professors.
In retirement, Wanda continued to bring value to her community. She served on many boards including at Evansville Ivy Tech, Howell United Methodist Church in Evansville, St. Mark’s Methodist Church in Bloomington, and United Methodist Women. Wanda also invested energy in the younger generation through teaching reading to elementary students, and she helped adults learn to read through the VITAL program. One of her favorite volunteer activities was working with the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, where she prepared tax returns and provided counseling services for those needing help.
In 2000 Wanda moved to Bloomington to be near her family. She spent the last six years of her life enjoying her friends at the Redbud Hills Retirement Community.
Wanda was preceded in death by her daughter Fay and husband Bill. She is survived by her daughter Vivian Winston (who followed her mother’s affinity for teaching accounting and is a trustee of IU), son-in-law Wayne, and grandchildren Jennifer Winston of Los Angeles and Gregory Winston of Bloomington, Indiana.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. Marks United Methodist Church, 100 N State Road 46, Bloomington, IN 47408 or to the USI Foundation for the Wanda B. Hibbitts Accounting Scholarship Endowment, 8600 University Boulevard, Evansville, IN 47712.
A celebration of life will be held at St Mark’s United Methodist Church on Wednesday, Jan. 4th, at 10 am.
The burial of her cremated ashes will be at 2:00 PM on Monday, July 17, 2023 at Park Lawn Cemetery, 1526 S. Green River Road, Evansville, Indiana 47715.