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Published: Wednesday, 2/28/2007

Bowling Green man's 100th birthday marked by large gathering

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Eark Hipster, center, recieves congratulations from his friends Ruth Vandersall, left, and Keith Bradley. Eark Hipster, center, recieves congratulations from his friends Ruth Vandersall, left, and Keith Bradley.
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Earl M. Hipsher was all dressed up last week with nowhere to go.

In fact, he didn't need to travel farther than the comfy recliner in his own living room to wait for dozens of friends and family members who popped in to wish him a happy 100th birthday.

It didn't take long for his one-story home in Bowling Green to fill up with family members; former colleagues, clients, and neighbors; friends from church; and "Earl's girls," a nickname given to the 20 or so caregivers who have worked with Mr. Hipsher during the last decade.

Two caregivers offer 'round-the-clock care, allowing Mr. Hipsher, affectionately known as "Obie," to remain at home, said Jessica Sinning, who's known Mr. Hipsher for two years.

"He's quite a person," she said. "He can make you laugh, definitely. He's got some very good jokes. He's very witty."

Even though he was relaxing in a recliner with a white blanket over his lap, Mr. Hipsher was fully dressed in a suit and tie complete with shiny black shoes and a red rose pinned to his lapel.

"Red roses - that's my flower," he said, admiring the bouquet of red roses flanked by cookies with the number 100 written on each in frosting, a chocolate fondue fountain, a two-tiered birthday cake, and other goodies crowding a long table.

As they greeted him, most guests commented on how great Mr. Hipsher looked on his special day.

"I never saw him when he wasn't dressed up and had a suit and tie on," said Rosalea Jimison, 80, who's known Mr. Hipsher for 50 years through church.

An hour into the party, Bowling Green Mayor John Quinn arrived to proclaim Feb. 20, 2007, as Earl M. "Obie" Hipsher day in the city.

"I think it's a good party," Mr. Hipsher said, looking at all his guests. "I had no idea this many would come."

Mr. Hipsher's parents, John and Nellie Hipsher, grew up in Bowling Green but moved to Virginia to raise tobacco before Earl was born, said his niece, Catherine Wiles.

But they moved back six months after Mr. Hipsher's birth on Feb. 20, 1907, and he's lived in the area ever since.

He landed his first job selling newspapers for the former Toledo News Bee at the age of 7 to help support his family following the untimely death of his father.

He also raised and sold rabbits, and later delivered groceries as a teenager while attending Bowling Green City Schools.

In his 20s, Mr. Hipsher was a bookkeeper for the F.W. Duttweiler Co. in Toledo.

The year 1929 was a big year for him because he married his first wife, Thelma, and began his 46-year banking career at what was known as the Wood County Savings Bank.

He retired in 1975 after the bank was renamed Huntington Bank.

The Hipshers then enjoyed the retired life before she passed away in 1981 after the pair had been married for 52 years, Mrs. Wiles said.

Though he and his first wife never had children, Mr. Hipsher gained four stepchildren when he married his second wife, Annabelle Rae, in 1982. She passed away in 2006 at the age of 89.

Mr. Hipsher now has nine step-grandchildren and 12 step-great-grandchildren.

The First Christian Church in Bowling Green has been a big part of his life, his niece said. He's held various church positions over the years, including church treasurer.

In addition, he's been a member of the Bowling Green Kiwanis since 1941, the Bowling Green State University Falcon Club, and is a member of the city's chamber of commerce and Republican Party.

In his spare time, Mrs. Wiles said her uncle enjoys monitoring his investments in the stock market.

Though he's now officially a centenarian, Mr. Hipsher said he doesn't think he'll be able to handle another 100 years.

"I'm ready for another 50," he said jokingly.

Contact Erika Ray at:

eray@theblade.com

or 419-724-6088.



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