Obituary- H.W. “Bubba” AsbellOct 1st, 2013 | By Admin | Category: Community News, Obituaries
H.W. “Bubba” Asbell, 89, of Orange Park, passed away on Tuesday, September 17, 2013. He was born on April 29, 1924, to Barney and Bessie Asbell in Chiefland, just a few miles from the famous Suwannee River. He graduated from Chiefland High School in 1942 in a class of 24 members and soon after was drafted to serve in the United States Army in World War II. He served in the infantry, medical corps and the military police, with his foreign service in the Philippines. Bubba was a company clerk in an MP company with the rank of sergeant. Following his military service, he took advantage of the GI bill, which allowed him to attend Stetson University in Deland, graduating in 1949. The month he graduated, he was interviewed in a Madison County pea patch during a rainy, hot and steaming August afternoon for a teaching position at Madison High School. He accepted the position as teacher of social science for grades nine through 12. On his first day on the job, he met Helen Campbell and it was love at first sight. Helen and Bubba were married on June 15, 1960 in the First Presbyterian Church in DeFuniak Springs. Bubba had been raised as a Baptist, but became a Presbyterian at the request of his soon-to-be wife. After three years in Madison, Helen and Bubba moved on to teaching at Marianna High School in the Florida Panhandle. He began taking night classes and attending summer school at Florida State University, where he earned an M.S. degree in School Administration and Supervision in the summer of 1956. During the 1956-57 school year, Bubba was assistant principal/teacher at Sneads High School and then he and Helen moved to Naples where Bubba became the principal at Naples High School in the fall of 1957. In 1960, Naples High was moved to a brand new facility, but days before the new school was to open, Hurricane Donna roared through Naples tearing the roofs off of every building and delaying the move for a year. In June 1962, Bubba became the Dean of Admissions and registrar at Lake-Sumter Community College in Leesburg. He retired from Lake-Sumter after 19 years of service on May 17, 1981. Bubba went back to the classroom after retiring as an administrator, first at Leesburg Middle School and then at Harry Anna Hospital School in nearby Umatilla. He and Helen both retired for good in 1986. In 1990, Bubba and Helen moved to Tallahassee, so that they could attend FSU football games and happened to be there for the best decade of football that FSU ever had. Bubba had three major projects during his retirement years. The first, experimental cooking, resulted in a self-produced cookbook in 1992. Most of Bubba’s kitchen creations included some form of alcoholic beverage and continue to be the highlight of family dinners. His second project was hybridizing daylilies, which he had dabbled with in Leesburg, but really focused on after moving to Tallahassee. This project resulted in the naming and registering some 90-plus hybrids with the American Hemerocallis Socity. In order to be closer to family, Bubba and Helen moved to Orange Park in 2002. Unfortunately, their time together would be short as Helen passed away on April 17, 2003. Bubba’s third retirement project was poetry. He composed poems on topics ranging from Hurricane Donna to the greatest generation of which he was a part. He used his poems in his annual Christmas cards, along with photographs of some of his daylilies. Eventually, he compiled a book of his favorite poems, which he shared with family and friends. Bubba moved to Allegro, a senior living community, in May 2012, where he was proud to be the only “Bubba.” He had a positive impact on many who lived and worked there and is remembered for always having a smile and kind word for anyone he met. His hearing loss in later years resulted in the loss of his “indoor voice” in public situations, much to the delight of his great-grandchildren. He will always be remembered for his love of education (equally happy as both student and teacher), his enthusiasm as an FSU alumnus and fan and his pride in his family. He is survived by his three children, Bob Lewis and his wife, Carole, of Orange Park, Lea Asbell-Swanger and her husband, Terry, of State College, Pa., and Kimberly Scherff and her husband, John, of Athens, Ala.; two grandchildren, Kellie Phillips and her husband, Joel, and Cathy Wilson and her husband, Dennis; and five great-grandchildren, Colten Phillips, Rae Phillips, Zane Phillips, Casey Willis and Gabriel Wilson. In addition to his parents and his wife, Bubba was pre-deceased by his sister, Dorothy Hunt. Services and interment were held at Jacksonville Memorial Gardens in Orange Park on September 20, 2013.