Community mourns loss of Bill Tipton

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Friends and family are mourning the passing of a man who left an indelible mark on Mineola and the people who live here.

On Thursday friends and family gathered at Cedars Memorial Cemetery in Mineola to celebrate the life of Bill Tipton. Mr. Tipton died on Jan. 28. There was much to celebrate in the years that Mr. Tipton and his late wife, Linda, lived in East Texas after moving here from Pasadena.

Mr. Tipton’s family asked that Ron Wilson, Mr. Tipton’s devoted friend, and Mercy Rushing give his eulogy. The admiration and close ties both friends expressed for him were remarkable.

A retired Dallas fireman who moved here, Wilson told anecdotes, some funny, some heart-warming concerning Mr. Tipton’s love for Linda. Wilson met the Tiptons when he attended the Methodist Church and he and Mr. Tipton’s relationship began as a working situation, as volunteers, for Main Street. They worked side by side for many years, although when work involved heights, the former Dallas fireman was the one on the ladder. Wilson continued to stay by Mr. Tipton’s side after he became ill and attended to him at his home and when he moved into Autumn Wind Assisted Living Center.

Rushing told about Tipton’s devoted service to the community and all of the major projects he shepherded through to complete. Among those were the renovation of the transportation depot and the complete redoing of the downtown sidewalks and the construction of the gazebo. Rushing noted she couldn’t think of an honor Mr. Tipton hadn’t received as he had had been named Mineola Man of the Year and also had been given the chamber of commerce’s Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award, among other things. Rushing said he had been like her right hand while he served Main Street and she called him her hero.

In addition to his community service, both Bill and Linda Tipton had been ardent fans of Mineola Yellowjackets sports, although baseball was their favorite. They attended games home and away, without having a child or a grandchild on the time, purely because they enjoyed attended the games and supporting the young people. Linda Tipton threw out the first pitch one year, and a banner full of signatures of baseball team members with a large Yellowjacket on it draped Mr. Tipton’s casket.

Another long-time Main Street volunteer, Barbara Musgraves, posted about him on her Facebook page last week and received an overwhelming response from Mr. Tipton’s friends. Her post and those of several other Mineola community servants, business people and young people follow.

“Mineola lost a very special warrior yesterday. Bill Tipton adopted Mineola as his retirement home 20 plus years ago. He and wife, Linda, (RIP Linda) dove right into the community with such vigor. They truly showed what loving your hometown is all about… I will close by saying how truly Bill was loved and appreciated - RIP Bill,” Musgraves wrote.

“There will never be another,” Pat Hamlett, also a long-time Main Street volunteer, said. “His devotion to the city and school was unsurpassed. How lucky we were to have him.”

Balinda Hickman’s input was simple, but profound. “Bill was an inspiration.”

A former Mineola city administrator, Dion Miller recalled his time with Mr. Tipton fondly. “He was a joy to work with in the City of Mineola. He was loyal to his community. Bill always wanted Mineola and Main Street to succeed. Mineola has a reputation for strong citizen volunteers and Bill is at the top of the list.” He continued, “I always enjoyed working with him as we went around checking the progress on the downtown sidewalk project. After the appointed rounds were completed, he and I would always head for East Texas Burger or Kitchen’s for a cold Coke or a cuppa coffee and a good visit. I was blessed to cross paths with Bill and Linda Tipton!”

Kurt Vanderslice, another worker for Mineola, said, “Bill was a very special man to me. He was president of the board of the New Hope Water Supply when he asked me to go to work for them until they could find a replacement for me. That temporary job lasted 25 years. He recruited me for many more projects in Mineola over the next few years. I never met anyone with more civic pride than he. He was a very dear friend of mine who will be missed greatly.”

“Together again,” Darlene Nicholson commented. “They loved Mineola and dedicated themselves to helping with many of the projects to improve Mineola. Precious folks!”

“He was a special man,” Barbara Dawson wrote. “I loved him and Linda,” Barbara Roberson commented. “RIP sweet Bill there will never be another you,” Charlotte Stevens said. “Bill and Linda Tipton were an amazing couple and they were loved by many,” Rebecca Wampler wrote.

“Mr. Bill and Sweet Linda were extra special people,” said Debbie Edwards. “Gary and I both thought the world of them and feel richly blessed to have called them dear friends.”

“To know them is to love them,” Laura Moore said of the Tiptons.

“Bill and Linda made the world a better place,” Wally Alsobrook wrote. “He holds a special place in my heart,” said Elizabeth (Welch) Harvey. “Bill was a great man,” Sue Scullion said. “He was a special person and will be missed by many,” wrote Nell French.

One of the many student athletes who was cheered on by the Tiptons was Cody Mize. “Mr. Tipton was a wonderful man. He and Mrs. Tipton made every Yellowjacket baseball game rain or shine. I think a lot of my teammates considered them as adopted grandparents. It took me several years after high school to realize just how rare a couple like them truly were. Their memories will serve as treasures until we see them again.”

Many more similar comments accumulated on Musgraves’ page

Mr. Tipton was born James William Tipton, to James and Euroth Tipton on Aug. 16, 1925 in Moberly, Missouri. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church and the Mineola Kiwanis Club. He served as chairman of Main Street in Mineola for 17 years and was also on the New Hope Water Board.

Mr. Tipton is survived by his daughter, Cynthia Baxter of Huron, Ohio and a grandson, Neil Walton of Denver, Colorado. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to Mineola Main Street Foundation, 300 Greenville Highway, Mineola, Texas, 75773.

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