The things that made James Hipp truly extraordinary are endless, but perhaps one of the things that made him so lovable was the way that he made everyone feel at ease after only a few minutes of being around him. His smile was perpetual, and he was warm, inviting, and approachable with a love for life that was easy to see. It was no secret that Jim was married to his soul mate as they were partners, companions, and best friends. His love as a husband spilled over into the love he had for his children, and he felt like the luckiest man in the world to become PaPa to the most amazing grandchildren. Jim lived an active life filled with countless enriching experiences, but what made these things even more special was sharing them with the ones he loved. His timeless legacy that is deeply rooted in generosity and compassion will be carried on by those who follow in his footsteps.
During the first half of the 1940s the eyes of our nation were focused overseas as countless young people were serving in WWII after the attack on our naval base in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Those who remained stateside became familiar with rationing on common goods, manufacturing that was focused on supporting the war effort, and gathering around radios awaiting the latest news from the front lines. Amidst this eventful time was a time of great anticipation for James and Bernice (Pietkivich) Hipp as they awaited the birth of their baby as the reality of the winter to come settled on the town of Racine, Wisconsin, in 1943. The big day finally arrived when the baby boy they named James Paul drew his first breath. He was the only child in his family, and his childhood was anything but easy. Because his parents divorced when he was only three, Jim’s mother worked many hours a week to support herself and her son. His maternal grandmother, Veronica, filled in many of the gaps that his mother’s necessary absence created, and she became very influential in Jim’s life.
Even from a young age Jim was a bustle of activity. He was very involved in sports and attended local schools in Racine. Jim’s high school years found him at Washington Park High School where he played football. In addition to holding down his studies, he worked at the Corner House Restaurant in Racine where he bussed tables. Jim’s mother also worked there.
After graduating from high school in 1961, Jim went on to University of Wisconsin in Madison with aspirations of becoming a pharmacist. He worked hard during the summers at a steel foundry in Racine to put himself through school. This work motivated Jim to fully apply himself to his studies as he did not want to have a career at the foundry.
Not to be forgotten during this time was Jim’s introduction to the young woman with whom he would write a love story that would span nearly 50 years. Her name was Lori Lochowitz, and they met in the summer of 1962 back home in Racine as she was dating a friend. Jim liked to give her a hard time because she attended Marquette University, with no football team, but it was a different story come basketball season. Back at school that fall, Lori had some friends who were talking about attending a UW football game. Lori chimed in that she knew someone who could get tickets, and so her connection with Jim was rekindled. Soon, they began dating. Not long after Lori graduated from Marquette in 1966, the sweethearts were married on September 3, 1966, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Racine.
The newlyweds initially lived in Madison for one year while Jim completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy, graduating on June 5,1967. Lori was not able to attend the graduation because their first son, Michael, was born just the day before. After serving an apprenticeship, Jim began his work as a pharmacist. While establishing his career, Jim and Lori continued to grow their family that eventually included their son Steve in January of 1969 and their daughter Kasey in September of 1972. In 1980, Jim and Lori opened their home to a Dutch exchange student, Karen, for one year. She has remained connected to their family to this day.
As fathers go Jim was second to none as he was constant source of support and encouragement to his children throughout their lives. He was there to give them a listening ear and had an intuitive understanding into what was going on in their lives. Jim always wanted only the best for his children and he worked hard to provide them with more than he had as a child. He encouraged them to strive to be their very best, too. Jim was always there for his children in every way possible. In everything they did, he was so very proud of his children.
Jim’s career moved them around a bit. They moved to Burlington, Wisconsin, when he took a position at Tobin Drug. Jim spent five years working there before becoming a partner in Tobin Drug. Once a partner, they moved to Oconomowoc in 1972. He and Lori moved back to Burlington in 1981. After 30 years, Jim retired from Tobin Drug in 2003. That same year he and his wife moved to Milwaukee, settling in the Third Ward close to all the activities and social opportunities they enjoyed such as the theater, festivals, the river, and dining out with family and friends. Jim continued working part time at Walgreens, fully retiring in 2014 at the age of 70.
Young at heart, Jim was always busy. He loved travel, sports, fishing trips to Canada with his sons and grandson, and the memorable family ski trips to Colorado. It was easy to tell that Jim was a passionate UW Badger fan as he was usually seen sporting cardinal and white colors. Jim enjoyed bicycling and made it across the state on two separate occasions. After moving to Milwaukee he was able to bicycle to many activities, and he really loved not having to drive in the city. Social gatherings with family and friends were frequent, and he loved exploring new places.
All who knew Jim would agree that he was truly a gift. He had a perpetual smile and was as social and outgoing as they come. When his outgoing personality was matched with his wife’s, they were a force who were always on the go together as well as with others. Although his battle with cancer was short, Jim continued to bless those around him in such a special way.
With a life that spanned times of great change in the world around him, James Hipp created a brilliantly colored mosaic of memories that his loved ones will cherish. He was never one to worry about the things of this world, rather, his focus was on loving and serving those who are in it. Jim was a man of honor and integrity whose greatest pride and joy was found in the family he shared with the love of his life. Taken too soon, he will never be forgotten.
James P. Hipp died on January 6, 2015. Jim’s family includes his wife, Lori Hipp; children, Michael (Sharon) Hipp, Steve (Emily) Hipp, Kasey Hipp, and Dutch daughter, Karen (Rob) Ponne; grandchildren, Teagan Hipp, Jace Hipp, Fleur Ponne, and Roos Ponne; and other relatives and friends. Family and friends will gather Monday, January 12, 2015, at Three Holy Women Parish – St. Hedwig Church 1704 N. Humboldt Ave from 11:30 a.m. until time of the Memorial Mass at 2:30 p.m. Arrangements provided by Suminski LifeStory Funeral Homes, Suminski / Weiss (414) 276-5122. Please visit SuminskiFuneralHome.com to leave a memory.