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Laurie and James Bibler of Russellville have pledged a $6 million estate gift to the Arkansas Tech University Foundation.
The foundation said its the largest personal gift pledge in the school’s 111-year history. The money will go into two funds: the James and Laurie Bibler Scholarship fund and the University’s Greatest Need fund.
James Bibler studied business administration at Arkansas Tech for two years before going to work for his father, Odus Bibler, in 1955. Odus Bibler was a farmer and the owner of a lumber business that was founded by his father, David Albert Bibler, in 1909.
James Bibler rose through the ranks of the company to become president at the age of 33 in 1967.
Bibler Brothers Inc. became a division of Great Northern Nekoosa in 1973, but 13 years later James Bibler formed James Bibler Enterprises and purchased all of the stock in Bibler Brothers Inc.
Following a modernization of the company from 1986-98, he sold 90% of the company to Freeman Brothers Inc. in 1998. West Fraser Co. of Canada bought the business in 2014.
Bibler has served as chairman of the Ouachita Timber Purchasers Group and as a member of the Southern Pine Inspection Bureau Board of Directors. He is a past chairman of the Arkansas Forestry Commission.
Bibler is also past president of the Southern Forest Products Association and the Arkansas Forestry Association. He was vice chairman of the public timber division of the National Forest Products Association and was inducted into the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2015.
He serves on the ATU College of Business Advisory Board, too, and has been inducted into the Arkansas Tech Hall of Distinction.
Laurie Bibler also worked in the family lumber business, in the roles of vice president/secretary and CFO.
She earned a two-year degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville then went to work at First American National Bank, where she rose to the rank of administrative assistant/officer of the executive department and secretary of the board of directors.
She later enrolled at Arkansas Tech as part of her preparation to become a real estate broker. Laurie Bibler is also a long-time officer for the ATU Foundation Board of Directors.