Wanda Fern Bailey Dibble, 98, of Santa Maria, Calif., passed away peacefully on Aug. 1, 2014, surrounded by loved ones.
Wanda was born and raised in Clarksburg, W.V., and attended Marshall College, where she played varsity basketball and volleyball and was a three-state ping-pong champion. She was one of seven children and until her death was the last one to survive.
Wanda began her teaching career at the age of 19, and went on to teach elementary school children of all ages for over 40 years. Fourteen of those years were spent in Santa Maria, where she taught third grade at Joe Nightingale and Patterson Road Elementary and touched many lives. She was always thrilled when a former student remembered her, and was honored when many told her she was the best teacher they ever had.
Wanda’s love of teaching came from her father, Rep. Cleveland M. Bailey, an eight-term U.S. congressman from the state of West Virginia who served in the House of Representatives from 1945-1963. Rep. Bailey was known as “Mr. Education” by his fellow congressmen, and authored a number of bills to boost federal aid to state and local schools. Wanda always sought to follow in her father’s footsteps.
While teaching, she met her future husband, Marine Corps Lt. Col. John (Jack) Dibble at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. After a brief courtship, they became engaged prior to his deployment to China during World War II. Several years later, he returned from the war with honors, and married Wanda. Their marriage lasted 54 years, until Jack died in 2003 at the age of 83. Like Wanda, Jack was also an educator, having received his Ph.D. in education and served as the dean of Allan Hancock College at Vandenberg Air Force Base for most of his career on the Central Coast.
Wanda loved life and lived it to the fullest during the entire 98 years she was with us. As the wife of a military officer, she was famous for her parties (and shrimp curry) with the Marine Corps top brass, and she continued to entertain frequently on the Central Coast when Jack became dean of Allan Hancock College at VAFB. After Wanda and Jack retired, they traveled frequently and enjoyed the company of their three children, Bob, Jane and Anne, and their grandchildren, Keith and Cristina Ozzimo.
After Wanda retired from teaching and Jack passed away, she continued to play bridge and socialize with her many friends at the Minerva Club, the Santa Maria Country Club and the Oasis Senior Center. She played bridge right up until the end — just three months before she passed away — and she loved and appreciated everyone who helped her continue to play bridge and keep her socially active. She was an amazing storyteller, and loved to share funny stories with family and friends. She also loved reading, crossword puzzles and sports, and was one of the original Lakers and Dodgers fans. She could recite the names and stats on many players, and loved nothing more than to watch a big playoff game with family and a pizza.
Wanda is survived by her son,Robert Dibble; her daughters, Jane Dibble and Anne Ozzimo; her son-in-law, Mark Ozzimo; Bill Lukeman (Wanda’s personal sous chef); and her grandchildren, Keith and Cristina Ozzimo.
Wanda was preceded in death by her husband, John G. Dibble; her parents, Cleveland and Maude Bailey; her brothers, Jerod, Jos, Donny and Ansel; her sisters, Tweedy and Audrey; and her niece, Carolyn Zakawski.
In lieu of a service, Wanda wanted us to host a celebration of life with friends and family. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to your favorite local charity in memory of Wanda and all the lives she touched on the Central Coast.
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