Thursday, September 17, 2009

Let me introduce you to my BB, as I affectionately call him sometimes. I don’t know if he likes the nickname or not. I never asked him. This is his lovely, devoted wife, Dianne. You’ll hear his story soon because he’ll be my guest writer on Kat’s Pause. That’s what he does for a living—writes, edits, publishes. Did. Until he retired a few weeks ago.

Bert is seven years older than I. When we were kids, that was a big difference and I maximized it.

“Well, you should see MY big brother. He’s bigger than yours and can beat yours up!”

It was half true. But Bert was gentle, smart, nurturing.
It wasn’t in his nature to fight. However, one time the neighborhood bully hurt me. The gentle giant woke up! Bully never bothered me again.

Ricky was three years younger than I. He and Bert were 10 years apart. (I’ll do the math for you.) Bert was often our care-giver. We both looked up to him…literally but also in every other way. He set a better example than either of us could follow.

Bert always made the honor roll. Ricky and I had good attendance records, thanks to Mama, the Enforcer. Bert was a hard worker. Ricky and I loved to read his comic books. Bert took his Bible to church and listened. Ricky and I drew cute pictures or played Tic Tac Toe on the bulletins and some Sundays we didn’t even get pinched! Bert was studious, somewhat serious, though friendly. I was the clown and he, my perfect audience. I loved to make him shake his head and laugh. Ricky began life somewhat shy but grew into his clownhood as an adult. Bert remains our best fan.
Katy, our 3rd child, clowning with me at school Clown Day

In 1965 Bert and I began a new segment in our lives. We both went to the same college. I was a freshman and he returned to his alma mater, Free Will Baptist Bible College, as Director of Publications. He’d pastored in New Hampshire for the two years prior. Recently he retired from his beloved college after 44 years. He was honored in many fitting, dignified ways.

The beginning of that career was a bit different, thanks to me, his own personal clown. Part of freshman orientation back then, was a faculty reception where the new students met college dignitaries in a receiving line.

I carefully stationed myself close to the end of the line, as it snaked its way from the president down to the peon, Bert-the-Newbie. He looked the academic part, so dapper in his dark suit, starched white shirt and conservative tie. He greeted each freshman with his characteristic smile and warmth.

That genuine love became his hallmark over the years. He loves people, especially students, and they know it. His door is always open (both home and office.) His soft shoulder, ever available. His listening ear remains alert. Godly wisdom flows, not only from his lips, but his life.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. This opening night of his 44 year career held only promise of all that. Like a majestic eagle, Bert perched from his launch, ready to soar in dignity.

He spotted me coming his way, as he shook other hands.

“Hello. I’m Mr. Tippett. Welcome to Bible College. And your name?”

One by one, he made each feel so special. But I knew I was moreso.

When I reached him, his smile broadened. I could see he was proud of me. I smiled back. It was the first smile I’d cracked all evening, saving it for him, my dear BB. When I did, I revealed a blackened front tooth I’d penciled on…just for him! His smile faded, then it was his eyes that widened.

His dignity melted into sweat droplets as his eyes darted down the receiving line all the way to President Johnson. He realized I’d just introduced myself to every one of his co-workers. By name. “I’m Kathy Tippett.”

“Oh. You’re Mr. Tippett’s sister.”

Eagle feathers drooped. But he soared anyway. At some point in time, I’m pretty sure I told him my smile was meant only for him. THEN he laughed. Always my best audience.

As I gathered pictures for this blog, imagine my surprise when I found this one. Imagine his surprise when he sees it here!

Hm-mmmm. Mr. BB Dignified may be a closet clown himself! Or maybe I just rubbed off on him. If you look closely here, you might see us reverse roles a little even in childhood.

Other snaggle-toothed family members hang out on our tree, so it could be like the cowboy with's all in the genes.
Me and Ricky in our Billy-Bob duds! His teeth were a
Christmas gift from me and he loved them!

Bert has terminal cancer. I love him with all my broken heart. I weep even as I write this. He’s still my hero. When you hear his story, I think he’ll become yours too.

Kathy (Meet another family member below.)


  1. As I have said before, I LOVE reading your blogs! I wish that I had known Mr. Bert Tippett like I knew your mom, dad, and Mr. Ricky Tippett. I used to "Granny-sit" for your mom when she lived with Mr. Ricky Tippett. I so loved her. I remember her asking me to do her nails once! We sat and watched "Father MacGyver" and I trimmed and filed her nails. SUCH a sweet lady!!! Anyways, I was going to tell you that the picture of you (with Mr. Bert Tippett) when you were little looks like Claire, I think! Hope you are having fun with your new grandbaby!

    Jenny Pannkuk

  2. Kathy, I love reading your blog, and it encourages me while giving me a laugh. I think... "only this could happen to Kathy!" Then it dawned on me. Duh?!? You don't wait for life to "coincidentally" give you a smile or laugh --- YOU create the laughter for all those around you (and us too) to enjoy! I want to be more like that -- full of God's joy and even laughter -- through every situation. Thanks for reminding me today. Love ya, Jan Haas