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George Fox mourns passing of Roy Hiebert

Known as 'Grandpa Roy' for more than four decades, Hiebert leaves a lasting legacy at Christian school


The George Fox University community is mourning the loss of longtime employee and campus institution Roy Hiebert, who died Thursday at the age of 92.

Hiebert had broken his hip in a fall and was in recovery after surgery at a Marquis Care center in Newberg.

Hiebert retired as associate director of the university’s plant services department in 1987, but was known best as “Grandpa Roy” after eating lunch on campus three days a week so that he could converse with students.PHOTO COURTESY OF GEORGE FOX UNIVERSITY - Roy Hiebert befriended many a student at George Fox University over the course of the decades he was affiliated with the Newberg school either as an employee or volunteer.

That routine became a cornerstone of his life following the passing of his wife in 1992, transforming the student body into his “2,300 grandkids.”

Hiebert was known for giving out flowers and he endeared himself to students by offering a listening ear, an interesting conversation partner or a word of helpful advice.

“I usually sit at an empty table by myself, if I can find one,” Hiebert told the George Fox Journal for a story in 2015. “I like to be up somewhere near the checker so that when students come in, they see me and they can decide if they want to come visit or they can go someplace else. It’s totally up to them.”

Hiebert left his position as a teacher and electrician for a missionary school in Ethiopia to accept job at George Fox. He was recognized as the university’s Volunteer of the Year in 1996 after spending more than 240 hours on the construction of a prayer chapel on campus.

Hiebert was a founding member of the “Greenroom,” a volunteer student prayer and worship group, in 1985 and accepted a Christian Service Award from the Northwest Christian Communication Foundation for his work on campus as “encourager and friend.”

George Fox announced Hiebert’s death to the community via a Facebook post Thursday, eliciting nearly 200 comments in less than 18 hours, with many people sharing their memories of him.

Hiebert made it clear, that he enjoyed his role of “Grandpa Roy” and was grateful for all the benefits it brought him.

“One of the things I tell students is you tend to become like the people you spend your time with,” Hiebert told the Journal in 2015. “I feel like that’s one of the things that has kept me from aging as much as I might have. Spending a lot of time with students, it has changed me. And hopefully it has changed some of the students a little bit, too.”