The list of outstanding persons recognized by the Three Rivers Lions Club as ‘Citizens of the Year’ grew by two Tuesday evening (April 24) as the local service organization honored Jim and Vera Bippus of Three Rivers as ‘2012 Citizens of the Year.’
As noted in an earlier River Country Journal story, more than 100 people gathered at Belle Epoque – formerly A Place In Time – to pay tribute to the couple’s many years of service to the community.
Featured speakers for the event were two close friends – Doug Gross and Skeet Moyer – and one of the honoree’s six children, City Manager Joe Bippus.
In his remarks, Gross noted that he and his wife, Lola, have known the Bippuses for 14 years. He identified six “personality characteristics that I find quite significant” – benevolence, industrious, perceptive, persevering, unifying, and supportive. And he said, “In those 14 years, they have demonstrated those characteristics with us, by us and through us and enriched our life in the process. I’m sure that’s true for many of you in the room tonight.” (Doug Gross audio clip – 1:52)
In the course of the program, a letter from Congressman Fred Upton was read and presented to the award recipients. At one point in the letter, Upton said, “Your family’s devotion to small business and public service in Three Rivers is legendary . . . and contagious. The two of you are very genuine examples of the ‘pay it forward’ attitude that makes small town America such a great place to live.”
State Representative Matt Lori presented a framed tribute from the State of Michigan signed by him, state Senator Bruce Caswell, and Governor Rick Snyder. Mayor Tom Lowry presented a proclamation from the City of Three Rivers that designated April 24, 2012 as “Vera and Jim Bippus Day” in the city. And Jeff Mayuiers, president of the Three Rivers Lions Club, presented a plaque from the organization to honor them as this year’s ‘Citizens of the Year’.
As the program drew to a close, the honorees were given a chance to speak. In the course of her brief remarks, Vera said, “If it wasn’t for all you lovely friends and family, we wouldn’t be up here today. It’s all of you who put us where we are today. Your generosity, your dedication, friendship and time.” And Jim said, “We really appreciate the people of Three Rivers welcoming us and getting us busy because that’s the only way to live is to be in your community. Thank you very much. Thank you for tonight.” (Vera & Jim Bippus audio clip – 2:26)
Thirteen past Citizens of the Year were on hand for the event: Eldon Jackson, Phyllis Swanwick, Marilyn Miholer, Elmer Black, Judy Gilchrist, James DalPonte, Tom Meyer, Phyllis Jones, Mary and Taylor Snow, Charlene Zavala, Jo Moyer and George Cole.
The local Lions Club launched the Citizen of the Year program in 1965.
To view the printed program for the banquet, click here.
For additional insights from the Three Rivers Commercial-News, click on the following link: ‘It’s just who they are’.