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Connected With The Community And On The Move: Keeping Up With Betty Kipp

Gardening at her Addison County home is just one way Betty keeps connected to the land and very busy.
photo provided
Gardening at her Addison County home is just one way Betty keeps connected to the land and very busy.
Celebrating her 50th anniversary with husband John aboard a cruise ship, Betty shares a smile and memory of her husband of almost sixty years.
photo provided
Celebrating her 50th anniversary with husband John aboard a cruise ship, Betty shares a smile and memory of her husband of almost sixty years.
Whether grand or great-grandchildren Betty finds time for all with games and family fun.
photo provided
Whether grand or great-grandchildren Betty finds time for all with games and family fun.

Tuesday September 10, 2013

By Cookie Steponaitis

   Betty and John Kipp first gazed upon the Champlain Valley of Vermont in the early 1950’s when the couple came to vacation at cabins owned by the Kneeshaw family. Their love affair with not only the landscape but the people and way of life made the couple want to call the valley their home. When the opportunity presented itself to purchase a lot directly across the road from their lakeside cabin John drove directly to the farmer’s home and asked what he wanted for the property. The decision sealed the family’s path and brought the Kipp family to the Green Mountains in 1970.

    Betty and John owned and operated the Skyview Motel in Ferrisburgh from 1970-1986 and were delighted to be the first in their families to be business owners. It was known for the family atmosphere, immaculately clean rooms and prompt and polite customer service. The Skyview Motel not only earned AAA ratings but secured its place in the area as another family fun enterprise that was successful. John took a position as the head of the Facility/Plant at Vergennes Union High School and the Kipp family embraced all that living in rural Vermont had to offer. “I would advise people not to come here to make a lot of money,” shared Betty Kipp, “but come up here for a special way of life. It is unique with people caring for each other and you live where you know each other.”

    Betty and John were not only rooted in family but in their church community as well. Betty gave many teenagers their first job at the motel and passed on to her young charges the lessons she had learned growing up and being a professional nurse. “I really enjoyed starting off a lot of young people,” shared Betty. “ Some of them did require a little extra talk and we discussed that it was a contract, they came on time, cleaned the rooms and with a job well done there was a check waiting for them at the end of the week. If they wanted to lie in the sun all summer or just hang out our business was not the place for them.” While Betty is not sure exactly how many thousands of people stayed with the Kipps in Ferrisburgh she enjoyed meeting people from all over the world. She put up a big map behind the desk and stuck in a pin from all of her visitors. The travelers, weekly rentals to people in business and visiting companies kept the Skyview Motel always busy and the family hopping.

    Betty Kipp is connected to her church, family and community and is not one to sit down for long or to let life pass her by. While she lost her partner of almost sixty years in February 2010 Betty does not like to, “waste a day and gets up every day with the mission and passion for getting involved in life.” A member of the Vergennes Lions Club, a volunteer at the Bixby Memorial Library and president of the Vergennes Community Forum, Betty divides her time between eight grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, a series of gardens and her affiliations with the community. The Vergennes Community Forum is a branch of the original Home Dem and meets the first Thursday of every month at 1:30p.m., for the purpose of community service, education and socializing.

     It is impossible to see Betty Kipp in any other setting  than sitting on her front porch and gazing at the lake and the land that brought the Kipps to Addison County all those years ago. She is as at home here as her children and grandchildren. While the rocking chairs invite you to sit a spell Betty grins and concludes the interview saying, “These chairs are twenty seven years old and they look pretty good. That’s because they don’t get a lot of use. I am out and about most of the time and they are for occasional use when sitting and admiring the view is on the agenda.” Betty is vested in the community, primed for action and is delighted to see the community pride and care that has grown in Addison County when it comes to preserving its historic downtowns and buildings. She is still involved and remembers with a grin the times when John waited patiently for her to come out of the store and greet her with the question, “Who were you talking to this time?”

    The next time you need to explain Addison County life or Vermont traditions to someone from outside the area send them to see Betty Kipp. If you can find and keep up with her you will hear the words, community, connected and never feel alone. And then she might share a quick story or two about those Addison County people who are obsessive with mowing and crafting their lawns. The Valley Voice salutes Betty and John Kipp for their foresight and role in helping to nurture a generation of Vermonters grounded in work ethics, pride in product and a sense of connection to the land, beauty and unique life that is Vermont.


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