Robert Kipp
1932 - 2021
Robert Kipp
May 21, 1932 - November 30, 2021
Overland Park, Kansas - Robert Almy Kipp passed away peacefully and naturally on November 30, 2021 in Overland Park, Kansas. Bob was 89 and is survived by his wife of 64 years Debbie and his two sons Steven and David.
Born in Lincoln Nebraska in 1932, Bob spent his early years in Lincoln and Lubbock Texas, before the family settled in Lawrence Kansas. After graduating from the University of Kansas in 1952 with a degree in Civil Engineering, he served as a communications officer in the United States Air Force in the Korean War, stationed at the remote Adak Station on the Alaskan Aleutian Islands in the Bering Sea. Returning to Lawrence, he received his master's degree in Public Administration from KU and began a consequential career in city management. His trajectory took him from Kansas to small towns in Southwestern Ohio (Vandalia and Fairborn) and ultimately back to Kansas City Missouri, where Bob served as the City Manager from 1973-1983 under Mayors Wheeler and Berkley. Kansas City has been home for more than 40 years. He described this work as being "an agent of democracy." Hallmark Cards, then as now an anchor partner in the development of Greater Kansas City, recruited Bob to lead its Crown Center Redevelopment Corporation. In the ensuing years, he held several executive positions in Hallmark and was a director of the Hall Family Foundation, engaging in a wide range of philanthropic initiatives in Kansas City. While at Hallmark, Bob was not only an ambassador and advisor to the community, but a valuable voice for the human and creative elements in the company's growth.
In Kansas City and Lawrence, much is known about Bob Kipp's contributions to the community, which are wide ranging and too numerous to detail. Organizations and institutions like the Kansas City Community Foundation, the KC Civil Council, the University of Kansas, the Kansas City Symphony, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, the International City Management Association, the Midwest Research Institute and several more enjoyed Bob's active participation.
Bob Kipp's professional life carried with it public obligations, which he met with an understated demeanor, earning a reputation for humility, approachability, engaged listening and a quietly collaborative style. He served as a sound counselor to many But Bob's successful public contributions may ultimately not have been as impactful as his life outside that realm. Being part of Bob Kipp's private universe was an education in the richness of life. His enthusiasms were surprisingly eclectic: cooking, photography, poetry, unusual automobiles, popcorn, Monty Python, the University of Kansas, children's stories, audio equipment, fried chicken (with white gravy,) strange wristwatches, obscure books and movies, Chiefs football, Colorado mountain life and Costco. Interesting, imaginative people fascinated him. And, of course, there was music.
Always a musical classicist, from his early days in Nebraska with his arts-loving grandparents, his taste also comprised the post-war folk movement, opera and a diverse interest in classical and modern composers and artists. This deep interest led Bob to his extensive involvement with the Kansas City Symphony and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He loved listening to music, understanding it, appreciating musicianship, and sharing his passion for music for anyone who showed an interest.
Bob Kipp was a man for all seasons and to, the very end of his life, met and exceeded what Saul Bellow called the terms of one's contract. The one, in our inmost heart, that we all know. Donations in memory of our father can be made to the Kansas City Symphony Requiescat in Pace, Robert Almy Kipp.

Published by Kansas City Star on Dec. 5, 2021.
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11 Entries
I am sorry for your loss. Bob was an outstanding individual who led a full and fulfilling life and I was glad to have known him in his younger days. Bob was my classmate at the Kucimat program at KU. He was the baby of the crowd. He told me that when he got his Bachelor's Degree he talked to Dr. Stene about taking the graduate course and was told to come back when he grew up, so he went into the military. While the youngest, we all knew he was the smartest. It wasn't his demeanor, he was always modest and unassuming. It was the way he asked questions. It showed he saw and understood things that we never thought of. At the time, Bob was into hi-fi and he would talk about his latest acquisitions and ask us over to hear the sound. Our KUCIMAT class was close knit, in part because of a temporary instructor who we all loved to complain about. ICMA conferences were big reunions for us. But as time went by and we got more involved in careers and personal life, our paths separated. Bob was always so successful that it was easy for me to keep track of him. Be thankful. be proud. Jim Giese
Jim Giese
December 14, 2021
I was a young African American female in a white male dominated profession in 1972 - on the staff of ICMA - when I met and interacted with city manager Bob Kipp. He always treated me with respect and encouragement to achieve my goal in 1979 to become the first AA Female City Manager in the nation, Oberlin, OH. I did not know about all of his eclectic "enthusiasms" but I am pleased to make a donation to the Kansas City in his memory. And I have become a nightly popcorn addict so I will toast a bowl to him for that as well! R.I.P.
Sherry Ann Suttles
December 8, 2021
Mu deepest sympathy to you, Debbie, and your family. Will always remember that Bob hired my husband, Joe, and gave him the opportunity to serve on many community projects within the realm of his duties as Director of the City Planning Department. A true friend and mentor.
Sandra (Sandy) Vitt
December 8, 2021
I am sorry for your loss. Bob was such a great person, He will live on in my memories forever. I never saw Bob without a smile on his face. Please accept my condolences.
Jim Straws
December 6, 2021
I want to extend my profound sympathies to the extended Kipp family on the loss of Bob's physical presence. Robert Kipp was the City Manager of Kansas City at the time I was an intern in the beginning of the 1980s. I have never known or worked with a more professional manager than Bob Kipp. He was the personification of what the City Manager profession was all about. He had the most level-headed, even tempered approach. Bob had a modest personality and was capable of dealing with all levels of citizens and businessmen. He taught me a great deal. One day I got to work early, and I saw him making coffee for the office. I said to him, "you have people who work for you that can make the coffee"; and he responded, "If you are too big to make coffee, you will 1. not get a cup early in the morning, and 2. you will demonstrate that you are too big for your britches." One of the other things that amazed me was his use of the public elevator up to his office on the top floor. There were thousands of employees in the Kansas City Hall. He would enter the elevator like any employee, even though there was a private elevator to his office. When I asked him about this practice, he said, "Since most of the employees did not recognize me, they feel free to talk. It´s a great way for me (as the City Manager) to understand what is going on in the departments". During City Council meetings Bob had a practice of putting his hands together and placing his index fingertips in his mouth. When the time was appropriate, he would remove his fingertips from his mouth, and provide a succinct, cogent and professional opinion. Sometimes the City Council did not take his suggestion. He knew that this was democracy in action. On one occasion when we were alone, I asked him about the practice of placing his fingertips of his folded hands in his mouth. He told me that he learned this early on in his career, as a means of controlling his impulse to speak. He said in the time it took to move his fingertips from his mouth, he could gather his thoughts and better control his impulse. He has had a profound impact on the communities he served and on the profession. He will be missed. May perpetual light shine upon him. Peace When the City Council did not follow his advice, he did not demonstrate anger. Instead, he was very philosophical about the matter. He said that the Council was elected by the people and are best positioned to understand their needs, not necessarily staff. The Manger is responsible for carrying out the policy of the Council.
William P Barlow III
December 6, 2021
Steve & Kipp family We are sorry to hear of your loss...what an outstanding Father you were blessed to have in your life.
Lisa and Keith Ehrhard
December 6, 2021
Debbie and family , so sorry to hear of his passing . You will be in my prayers.
Christy castle
December 6, 2021
Mr. Kipp was always a positive beacon in my life. He had the ability to help you feel like you could accomplish anything you put your mind to. I hope he is listening to a favorite classical album with a batch of Kipp´s Kremy Karamels by his side. Thank you for your friendship Mr. Kipp and Kipp family.
Heather Misel
December 5, 2021
Mr. Kipp influenced many in his awesome career. I app his imprint in my career.
Larry Paine, ICMA SeniorAdvisor for Kansas
December 5, 2021
I am so sad to hear of Mr Kipp's passing. I had the privilege of meeting him in 1982 at Crown Center. I always enjoyed our great conversations while I was cutting his hair. He will truly be missed.
Beth Davis
December 5, 2021
Debbie, Dave, and Steve: Bob was an icon in Kansas City and was someone I looked up to in my younger days and always highly respected. It was comforting knowing Bob (and Debbie, of course) would be there for my mom in her times of need. I´m sure he´s sitting in a recliner once in a while now eating popcorn in a bowl of milk.
Scott Kennedy
December 4, 2021
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