Jean Tibbetts

Psychologist, Entrepreneur

Jean Tibbetts, 78, a psychologist, founder of a technology information company and historian, died of cancer Sept. 7 at her home in Leesburg.

Mrs. Tibbetts had been a resident of the Washington area since 1958. She returned to college in 1970 after raising her children and became one of the first women to graduate from the University of Virginia. She later received a master's degree in psychological testing and measurement from George Mason University.

In the mid-1970s, she helped develop a program in Northern Virginia public schools to conduct comprehensive evaluations of students with behavioral and emotional problems.

In 1983, she founded Search Corp., an information technology firm in Great Falls that provided scientific and technical research and other information primarily to international companies and governments. She headed the company until 2001.

Mrs. Tibbetts was also a historian who was active in the Great Falls Historical Society for 20 years, serving as president for two terms. She wrote a number of articles on local history and authored a book, published last year, about the history of Cornwell Farm in Great Falls.

A talented painter, Mrs. Tibbetts sold many of her works through Garfinkel's department store in the 1960s. She was also a noted cook and founded what is now the Jean Tibbetts Blue Ridge Gourmet Club at Leisure World in Leesburg, where she lived.

She lived in McLean for six years and in Reston for eight years before moving with her family in 1975 to Great Falls, where they lived in a house Mrs. Tibbetts designed. She moved to Leesburg in 1999.

She was born Frances Jean Bullock in Hartford, Conn., and grew up in Wethersfield, Conn. As a high school senior in 1944, she won a scholarship to study aeronautical engineering at Purdue University in Indiana. She later worked for two companies that manufactured aircraft engines, Curtiss-Wright Corp. in Columbus, Ohio, and Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, Conn.

In the early 1950s, she was vice president of Rose Hill Memorial Park, a family business in Connecticut. She later became a model in New York and Boston, appearing in advertisements that ran in national magazines.

Her marriage to Allen Grant ended in divorce.

A daughter from her second marriage, Cheryl Tibbetts Sorensen, died in a horseback-riding accident in 1985.

Survivors include her husband of 49 years, Roland Tibbetts, of Leesburg; a son from her first marriage, Dr. Clark Tibbetts of Arlington and Sperryville, Va.; two grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.