Mr. James Malvyn (Mal) McKibben, 86, entered into rest on June 17, 2020.
Born in Buena Vista, Georgia in 1934, Mr. McKibben spent his childhood moving around to various cities in South Georgia, as his father served as a United Methodist minister in the South Georgia Conference. Reverend McKibben shared his love of fishing and bird watching with his son, something that Mal McKibben passed on to his own family.
After graduating high school in Jesup, Georgia a year early, Mr. McKibben attended Emory University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. Mr. McKibben moved to North Augusta in 1955 and worked at the Savannah River Plant (SRP) as a nuclear chemist for 44 years. As a vocal nuclear technology expert and nuclear energy activist, Mr. McKibben also traveled extensively, spending three years in California as the Senior Project Manager for the design of the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF); to Russia to participate in an exchange of Plutonium production data; and France, to participate in reactor design meetings. He published extensively during his career, contributing to multiple books and more than 50 published papers during his career. His contributions to his field were recognized by the American Nuclear Society (ANS) where he was named an ANS Fellow.
Upon retirement from SRS, Mal McKibben served as the Director of Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness (CNTA), an organization he was a founding member of, turning it into the largest nuclear advocacy citizen-centered group in the country. Upon retiring from CNTA in 2007, Mr. McKibben served on the the board of the SRS Heritage Foundation and was board chair from 2009 - 2012. In 2000, a joint proclamation from both the South Carolina House and Senate was issued, recognizing and commending Mr. McKibben for his service to not only his community but his country.
Mr. McKibben was an active member of Grace United Methodist Church, serving in numerous roles in his 64 years as a member. Leadership roles included Sunday School teacher, pastor parish relations committee member and chairman, and Tenor in the Chancel Choir. He and his wife taught the 6th grade confirmation class together for many years, and later Mr. McKibben was also a teacher of his peers in the Stillwell class.
To Mal McKibben, being a good citizen meant being a lifelong student of current events, government and engagement in ensuring well-run elections. Mr. McKibben was the first chairman of the Aiken County Republican Party when this alternative political party was introduced.
Mal and Sally McKibben's coffee table was always stacked with reading materials, which included the North Augusta Star, Nuclear News, The Methodist Advocate, Scientific American magazine, US News and World Report, National Geographic, South Carolina Wildlife, and Saltwater Fishing magazine. Dinnertime conversations with the three daughters were expected to cover the full range of topics.
As one who loved language and words almost as much as he loved science, it was no surprise when Mal playfully named his beloved Grady White offshore fishing boat Mal-Content. He believed that Jesus was preparing a heavenly version of the Gulf Stream, stocked with fish, for his heavenly reunions. Mal-Content2 is floating there today, father and son catching up on long-missed conversations.
Mr. McKibben is preceded in death by his parents (Rev. Charles Roy McKibben and Allie Mae Conners McKibben) and his brother (Charles Roy McKibben, Jr).
Survivors include his wife Sarah Williams McKibben, three daughters Margaret McKibben Key (Buddy), Kathleen McKibben Harper (Scott), and Elizabeth McKibben Owens (Ed); sister, Edyth McKibben Snow, nine grandchildren, James Patrick Harper (Ksenia), Emma Harper Indendi (Dustin), Claire Harper Ledford (Philip), Andrew McKibben Key, Samuel Aaron Key, Jackson Owens, Julia Maryniak, Anna Maryniak, and Ana Grace Owens; as well as three great-grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11:00 am on Saturday, June 20th, at Grace United Methodist Church. Health and safety protocols will be in place, including social distancing. Please feel free to bring your own facial mask. The family will be available in the church portico from 10:30 to 10:55, and immediately following the service for light refreshments at the family home, 1002 Ponderosa Drive, North Augusta.
Honorary Pall Bearers will be the members of the Stillwell Sunday school class.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Grace United Methodist Church, 639 Georgia Avenue. North Augusta, SC 29841
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