by Jon Petters
Several times while talking with Dan Wippler, he refers to “serving.” I can’t help but ask where that comes from? With his voice cracking, he tells me about his brother, a Vietnam veteran with cancer, and his last days at the Veterans Administration Hospital. His brother told him he had been well cared for, and that we are all here to serve each other. Those were powerful words from a brother. With a little more prodding on my part, he shares with me the need for all of us to serve each other regardless of our religion or other differences. These are welcome words for a divided nation.
Wippler and his bride, Karen, returned to the area more than 20 years ago after a stint in North Carolina, making this their home. Both have been generous with their time serving those in St. Joseph and beyond. Once a week, Wippler ventures out to volunteer for the local VA hospital picking up patients in need of a ride to their appointment. A recent day included picking up a patient in Grand Rapids, Minn. I can only imagine how comforted this patient and others feels when this smiling gentle man drives them to or back from the VA.
When the beloved facilities manager for his local church passed away, there was an enormous void and much sadness. Wippler was there, whether it was working with a contractor, or in one case replacing an old door and even removing an active squirrel that was raising havoc with the insulation in the wall. He is a spiritual man. When asked who is one of your heroes today, he immediately said, Father Brad. Being a part of a church is important to him. For Wippler that includes more than just attending. As finance chairman, he takes great joy in watching others learn and become leaders.
The thing about these quiet saints is they don’t have time to toot their own horn and they won’t tell all the little things they do. But his friends like Margy Hughes and Chuck Kern can’t say enough good things about Wippler. Chuck feels blessed to have a kindred spirit to share time with as men in our world do not often have close male friends.
The next time you are at a cemetery for the funeral of someone you’ve loved who was a veteran, you may off in the distance hear the sound of taps, signaling the finality of their life, followed by a three-volley gun salute. If you look closely you will probably see Kern with the local American Legion Rifle Squad. I could go on, but that’s another story.
Petters initiated this Quiet Saints series of articles because he wishes to honor unsung heroes in our midst. Petters is a St. Joseph businessman, realtor and real estate developer and investor. He and his wife, Colleen, own and manage Collegeville Cos., Collegeville Brokerage, 24 North Lofts and Millstream Shops and Lofts among other business endeavors.