July 28, 2023

The Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary family mourns the passing of Mrs. Elizabeth J. Gifford on July 24, 2023. Even as we mourn, however, we rejoice that Mrs. Gifford is now in the presence of Christ, whom she loved and served. 

Elizabeth (Wubben) Gifford was born on February 16, 1937, in Buffalo Center, Iowa. Two years after graduating from Buffalo Center High School, she married Richard Gifford in 1957. Elizabeth, Richard, and their three children eventually settled in Slater, Iowa, where they faithfully served God in a church they helped start, Slater Baptist Church. The two would have celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary in August. 

Mrs. Gifford completed two degrees from Iowa State University, a bachelor of science degree in science and humanities in 1959 and a master of arts degree in English in 1977. She began her teaching career at Ballard High School in Huxley, Iowa. In 1971 she became a full-time instructor of English at Faith, a position she held until 1983 when she began teaching at DMACC and the University of St. Francis. In 1997 she returned to Faith as an adjunct professor, a role she filled for the next 22 years. She retired from formal teaching at the conclusion of the 2018-2019 school year.

Having served at Faith for the majority of her 48-year teaching career, Mrs. Gifford was integral to several academic improvements at the college. She assisted the library’s transition from organizing books according to the Dewey Decimal System to the Library of Congress. She also established and directed the college writing center. Today, the Write Spot is staffed by students who spend hundreds of hours annually assisting students and staff with various writing assignments and projects.   

In the classroom, Mrs. Gifford taught American, British, and World literature as well as composition with infectious enthusiasm. She loved poetry, a fact attested to by her longtime friend and colleague David Horner. “Among the fond memories I have of Liz,” Horner recently recalled, “is the opportunities to talk with her about literature during the faculty breaks. Often the conversation was around poetry and our favorite poet, Robert Frost.” Reminiscing on Mrs. Gifford’s influence on his own teaching, former student Joshua Boyd also shared a memory related to poetry: “When I think of Mrs. Gifford, an image comes to mind. Having just read a line of poetry, she’d look up at us students, her glasses balanced on the end of her nose, with a warm smile on her face. She seemed to be relishing the beauty of a poetic line. Rather than rush to discuss its meter or wring out its meaning, she’d linger over a line simply because it was delightful.”

When Mrs. Gifford prepared for retirement from formal teaching, she said, “I am retiring from the classroom, but I have some interesting plans. In the words of Robert Frost: I have promises to keep, / And miles to go before I sleep, / And miles to go before I sleep.”

Now that Mrs. Gifford has passed into eternity, family, friends, former colleagues and students can take solace from the concluding lines of John Donne’s sonnet “Death, be not proud.”

One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

We praise God for Mrs. Gifford’s faithful service over many years at Faith, and we take comfort that she placed her faith in Jesus Christ whose resurrection put Death to death for those who love Him.