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Tipton leaves behind legacy of leadership


By Brianna White
Advocate Staff writer

Working to serve his community and make it better for its people, a former city councilman and police commissioner left his leadership legacy on Mt. Sterling.

James Tipton, 86, of Mt. Sterling, died Friday, June 9, 2017. He had been struggling with Alzheimer’s and died peacefully in his sleep, a family member said.

“He taught us all how to be strong and tough and how to serve our community,” Tipton’s son, Tony, said. “He wanted to give back to the community that he grew up in.”

Tipton was a member of the city council for 16 years and helped bring industry and safety to Mt. Sterling.

When he joined the council, Hobart Manufacturing was closing its doors, posing a great loss for the city. Tipton refused to accept the loss and began bringing in new jobs and employment to the industrial park. He was also responsible for creating a second industrial park.
“They took the bull by the horns and said the community will not die,” Tony said.

In addition to industry, Tipton helped safety in Mt. Sterling by being a police commissioner, helping to hire and organize the Mt. Sterling Police Dept. One officer he hired was Police Chief David Charles, who also served as a pallbearer at his funeral.

Tony said his father always looked out for everyone, even if it wasn’t the popular thing to do.

Tipton worked with Jim Ralls, a close friend and later fellow city councilman, at Bob’s Poultry and Eggs during times of segregation.
A delivery the two had to make was in a town where racial threatening signs were posted. Tony said Ralls was black, and, despite the segregation, his father was going to protect him.

Tipton called ahead to the sheriff and explained that he would not stand for any trouble or for Ralls getting hurt. The sheriff took his word, and the two had no problems.

Tony said his father was a man you took his word for.
In addition to the work and dedication he put into the community through the city council, his open nature is something Mt. Sterling Mayor Gary Williamson, who also served as an honorary pallbearer, remembers him for the most.

“He would tell you what he thought and he knew what he thought,” Williamson said.

Aside from his dedication to the community, Tipton also dedicated several years to serving his country, such as he did in Vietnam.
Tony said he remembers how televised the Vietnam War was with daily casualty updates and footage of soldiers being carried off the battlefield. After his father came home from Vietnam, he was standing outside shirtless, and Tony began to cry thinking Tipton’s belly button was where he had gotten shot.

Before he retired, Tipton served as chief engineer at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Lexington. He serviced the Leestown and Cooper Drive hospitals, overseeing maintenance of the buildings and grounds.

The pride of Tipton’s life was his family, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Tony said, and he was proud of all of them.
Tipton is survived by his wife, Louise Butcher Tipton; one son, Anthony “Tony” Tipton (Jennique); a daughter, Kathy Roussos, two sisters; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

A funeral service was held Monday, June 12, at Taul Funeral Home.
For a complete obituary, see page A9.