Melvin Beall Tibbels, a retired Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone employee and community volunteer, died of cancer Monday at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Hunt Valley resident was 86.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Hamilton, he received a 10th-grade education in the Baltimore City schools system.
He was a cable splicer at the telephone utility from 1943 to 1973. He then established a landscaping business, and planted and mulched gardens for his clients.
"He never charged very much, and many of his customers were elderly widows," said his son, Allan M. Tibbels, who is the co-director of Sandtown Habitat for Humanity. "They knew he would do a perfect job."
Mr. Tibbels was a 21-year gardening volunteer at the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood in West Baltimore. He worked with New Song Urban Ministries and his son's Sandtown Habitat for Humanity. He provided landscaping services and designed and planted gardens.
His son estimated that his father did work on more than 200 Habitat homeowner yards on Stricker, Presstman, Gilmor, Mount and Calhoun streets.
His son said that Mr. Tibbels was a "man of simple yet deep faith." He attended St. James Lutheran Church and Liberty Reformed Presbyterian Church. At his death, he was a member of Hunt Valley Church, a Presbyterian congregation. He was also a Metro-Maryland Youth for Christ volunteer in the 1970s and 1980s. Executive Director Bob Arnold recalled Mr. Tibbels' involvement, stating that "He was clearly one of the early fathers of the movement, and his involvement was an important part of all we do today."
Services were held Thursday in Towson.
In addition to his son, survivors include two other sons, Louis C. "Butch" Tibbels and Gary M. Tibbels, both of Baltimore; a sister, Estelle Hoover of York, Pa.; 11 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His wife of 52 years, the former Marie DeGreif, died in 1996.