John C. Hipp, beloved father, auto racing enthusiast, and founder of John C. Hipp Construction and Equipment Co., Inc. in Alachua, died of cancer Saturday, September 14, at his home on the Ichetucknee River in Branford. He was 78.
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Deeply loved patriarch to three generations, John was surrounded in his last days by his wife, Mary; their three daughters, Virginia Johns, Lisa Albertson, and Amanda Hipp; son-in-laws, Kenny Johns, Miles Albertson, and John Mayberry; grandson-in-law, Matt Webster; seven grandchildren, Anita, Caleb, Chelsea, Victoria, Mary, Adam and Christina; and three great-grandchildren, Felicity, Arabella, and Phoenix.
Born February 19, 1935, in East Orange, NJ, John was third in a family of five children. John is preceded in death by parents, Ralph and Lydia Hipp, sister, Barbara, brothers, Ralph, David and Tim, and great-granddaughter, Odessa.
Through life, John was always busy. As a small child on the family's new Indiana farm, his mother attached him by a rope to the clothesline to keep him from running off with the family dog.
At a young age, John had a passion for cars. He and his father fixed up a hot rod when John was a teen. His father plowed a race track for him in one of the corn fields behind the house.
When the family moved to Williston, FL, John met his lifelong love, Mary Edna Fugate. They both graduated Williston High School in 1953 and were married at the First Methodist church by the same pastor that married Mary's parents.
As a young man, John worked as a car salesman in Williston, Chiefland, and Gainesville before opening his own dealership, Gainesville Auto Sales, Inc. in 1968.
In his twenties and thirties , John also owned several race cars that he raced at area tracks. But it was his modified 1963 Chevrolet that became the first Gainesville car in history to race at Daytona when it ran in the NASCAR Permatex 300 in 1966. Later that year, his car would finish 18th in the Daytona Firecracker 400.
In the late 1960's, John opened Hipp Ford Tractor north of Gainesville with younger brother Tim, before founding John C. Hipp Const., an asphalt paving company, on Sept. 14, 1976 -- the same month and day of his passing.
John's oldest daughter, Virginia, has run the family business since his retirement in the late 1990s. His second daughter, Lisa, is vice-president, secretary, and treasurer. Through the years, all three daughters and three generations have worked in the company.
A student of Dale Carnegie, John approached his business and family with the same principles and charm.
"Always make a person feel comfortable when you talk to them," his daughters remember him saying, "and when you shake someone's hand, have a firm grip and look them in the eye."
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the UF Health Shands Children's Hospital, P.O. Box 100386, Gainesville, FL 32610. Please not John C. Hipp in he memo line.
A celebration of John's life will be held Sunday, Sept. 29 from 2-4 p.m. at Best Western Gateway Grand, 4200 N.W. 97th Blvd., Gainesville, FL 32606. For updates, please email JohnnyHippMemorial@gmail.com
Arrangements are under the direction of GATEWAY-FOREST LAWN FUNERAL HOME, 3596 S. US Hwy 441, Lake City, FL 32025 (386-752-1954). Words of love and comfort may be sent to the family at www.gatewayforestlawn.com
Published in Lake City Reporter on Sept. 18, 2013