NASW National Board Members Remember Colleague Anthony “Tony” Bibus, III

Feb 14, 2024

By Paul R. Pace, NASW Advocates Magazine Senior Editor

NASW national board members are mourning the loss of one of their colleagues, Anthony “Tony” Bibus, III, PhD, LISW, who died late last year while serving as Region IX director for NASW. He was 77. Region IX includes Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois.

NASW Region V national board member Alice Kay Locklear, PhD, MSW, ACSW, noted Bibus always had a leadership book in front of him at board meetings.

“He would share with members of the board what he had read,” said Locklear, a professor and assistant chairperson of the Social Work Department at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. “He put the plug in for us to grab one of those books and read it because of what we would get out of it.”

Bibus could make a person feel valued, and he would genuinely listen to what people had to say, she said. “He asserted that we stay true to our profession.”

Anthony Bibus

Anthony Bibus

As a board member, Bibus was a stickler for precision. “He looked at the most minute details and I think that is extremely important,” Locklear said. “He didn’t mind pointing those details out.”

“He was a phenomenal person that I will never, ever forget,” she added. “The impression that he has left us with, we will all take with us. He will not be forgotten.”

For board colleague Michelle Pliske, DSW, LCSW, RPT-S™, Bibus will be remembered for his deep compassion and kindness.

“I think he was the first person to welcome me as a new board member,” said Pliske, assistant professor at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore., and Region XII director for NASW.

“You knew he genuinely cared,” she said. “He had that quality that we work so hard to teach in schools of social work.”

Pliske said Bibus set the bar for excellence in what it meant to be a professional and a leader in the field of social work.

“He came prepared to every single conversation,” she said. She noted that he had done the reading with a fine-toothed comb and came to the board meeting with challenging questions and opposing viewpoints.

He also knew when it was time to be lighthearted.

“I remember Tony saying, more than once, during these long conversations for hours and hours, Tony would be the first one to say, ‘Brains need breaks,’” Pliske said with a laugh.

“He drove that self-care aspect of how we stay present and engaged,” she said. “We can’t do that if we aren’t taking care of ourselves.”

She has since incorporated that philosophy with her students and people in other board meetings she attends.

“He is going to be greatly missed,” Pliske said. “He was an exemplary social worker, but also an amazing human.”

Bibus held a PhD from the University of Minnesota School of Social Work and a MA and BA in English. In 2012, he retired from Augsburg University’s Social Work Department, where he served as the BSW director and department chairperson.

For three decades, he was an active NASW member, serving the NASW Minnesota Chapter as a member of the conference planning team or moderator at conferences/events and volunteering for multiple committees.

Bibus was a long-term member of other national and regional associations, including the Council on Social Work Education and Social Work England, and worked periodically with the Association of Social Work Boards.

He contributed to the CSWE/ASWB/NASW Curricular Guide for Licensing and Regulation. His practice and studies in child welfare, supervision, and ethics led to several publications, most recently on cultural humility.

In addition, Bibus received the NASW Minnesota Chapter’s Social Worker of the Year and Lifetime Achievement awards.

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