John Fuller Libby, a prominent citizen of this city and a member of this society, died on the twenty-fifth day of December, 1906. By his death, the city has lost one whose life was filled with great promise, and it is with a deep sense of public loss and personal sorrow that we record the fact of his decease. John Fuller Libby, son of John Webb and Betsy B. (Dingley) Libby, was born on February 3, 1863, at Richmond, in the state of Maine. For his early education he attended the public schools of his native town, and upon graduation in the year 1881, entered Bowdoin College. His career in college was characterized by quiet and successful devotion to his studies, and upon graduating [p. 71] in the year 1885, he was appointed principal of the Public High School of the Town of Waldoboro, Maine. In 1887, he gave up this position and accepted that of Associate Principal at Bridgton Academy, in the same state. Teaching, however, was not the life work which he had mapped out for himself, and his ambition soon led him to devote himself to the study of the law. He was admitted to the bar in 1890, and immediately began practice in the city of Rockland, at the same time taking an active participation in public affairs. While in Rockland he served as secretary and treasurer of the Public Library Association, was a member of the school board and also was a member and president of the common council of the city. In the year 1892, he left Rockland and settled in West Medford, beginning with John E. Hanley a law business in Boston, under the name of Hanley & Libby, which was continued until 1897, when he opened an office of his own. He served as mayor's clerk in the city of Medford from 1897 to 1900, and represented the 12th Middlesex District in the General Court in the years 1898 and 1899. In his second term he was elected without opposition, receiving one thousand and thirty-nine votes, to ten for all others. In April, 1901, he was appointed by Govenor W. Murray Crane, as special justice of the First District Court of Eastern Middlesex, and in February, 1906, he was appointed city solicitor of Medford. Both these positions he held until the day of his death. He likewise served the city as chairman of the board of water and sewer commissioners. Mr. Libby was married on October 16, 1890, to Gracia Dana Gay, of Waldoboro, Maine. They have one daughter, Gracia Frances Libby, born November 13, 1904. Mr. Libby was a member of Ligonia Lodge, I. O. O. F., No. 5, of Portland, Maine; was Past Chief Patriarch of Mystic Encampment of Medford; was a member of the Bowdoin Club of Boston, of the Pine Tree Club of Boston, of the Medford Club, and also of numerous other local societies. [p. 72] His principal characteristic was an unostentatious and unswerving devotion to whatever task he undertook and to whatever duty he believed he was called upon to fulfill. He was not a man who was attracted by notoriety, nor did he ever seek to cut his way to success by cheap methods of public advertisement or public notoriety. His life was marked instead by studious devotion to the profession which he had chosen, while at the same time he carried into that profession those principles of fidelity and righteousness which characterized his career in all its many relations. Although a man naturally attracted by public life, he never sought to advance his own cause by attacking others, preferring instead to create, as a foundation for the upbuilding of his career, a solid respect for his own integrity, and a reputation for devotion to his duty and his ideals. In his personal relations Mr. Libby, while having many acquaintances, had few intimates. Personally popular with all with whom he came in contact, there was in him however, a natural reserve which it was difficult to penetrate. This characteristic indicated in him no lack of appreciation of the human qualities of those he met, but instead marked an unconscious self-disparagement. He enjoyed his social relations with his fellow men, but those social relations were always marked by a quiet interest in them and their affairs, rather than by what he would have called an obtrusive display of his own. He was not an egotist. Instead, his point of view was to see what he could do for others, rather than how he could impress upon others his own importance. It was this characteristic which won for him many friends, while at the same time few of those friends ever could say that they had more than a superficial acquaintance with him himself. His career was cut short at the time when it was beginning to fulfill the promise of his early manhood. If quiet and steadfast devotion to duty, accompanied by integrity and high ideals, can win high success, John [p. 73] Fuller Libby would have won that success, had his life been permitted to round out its full complement of years. That he died just when entering upon the threshold towards which he had so steadfastly worked, is one of those enigmas in the law of the universe which have puzzled mankind since civilization began. From our local and human point of view many lives contain in them not a one-hundredth part of the good which had already shown in his. That he has been taken from us, is but one of those mysteries with which we are forced to be content, hoping that whatever is, is for the best.
—J. M. H.