Funeral services for Senator John Thomas Tipps are scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday, February 25, 2013, at the First United Methodist Church with Reverend’s Gene Cormier and Tony Caro officiating. Judge Tom Walker will also speak. Interment will follow in Bomar Point Cemetery. The family will greet friends at a visitation on Sunday afternoon from 4-5 p.m.
Senator Tipps was born January 25, 1923, in Zaneis, Oklahoma, to Grover H. and Mary Ann (Lamb) Tipps. He passed this life on February 21, 2013, in a local hospital. He and Irene Clifft were married February 7, 1947, in Gainesville, Texas.
Lieutenant John Thomas Tipps (Tom Tipps), Ardmore, Oklahoma, enlisted in the United States Army, 45th Infantry Division on September 16, 1940, and subsequently served in the Air Corps. He was assigned to the 8th Air Force Division, 479th Fighter Group and 434th Fighter Squadron. His Fighter Group was known as “Riddle’s Raiders” and was one of the most decorated groups in World War II. During the War, Tom flew in excess of 60 combat missions over France and Germany in both the P-38 and the P-51 fighter planes. He flew top cover in the allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day. Tom was awarded the Air Medal Award with four clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross, a Purple Heart and many other citations by the United States Government for his military service.
On October 18, 1944, Tom was forced to land after his plane was hit by enemy fire during his 64th combat mission. The plane was examined on the ground and it was determined that it had damage to its wing but could fly. Tom took off in the plane headed towards his base in England and after reaching an altitude of 20,000 feet, it was determined that the plane’s instruments were not functioning properly and he had to abandon the plane and bail out in an area that he thought was behind enemy lines. He landed in a tree in Belgium. He broke his back and leg and was required to be in a full body cast for nine months. As a result of his disability, he retired from the United States Air Corps in 1945 with the rank of First Lieutenant. In October 2009, Tom’s commanding officer presented him with a field promotion to the rank of Captain.
In his civilian life, Tom served in both Houses of the Oklahoma Legislature representing Carter County, Oklahoma. He was the only person in history to serve in both houses of the Oklahoma Legislature from Carter County. He served from 1952 to 1954 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and from 1954 to 1962 in the Oklahoma State Senate. During his service in the legislature, Tom championed and supported veterans programs, enactment of Oklahoma Central Purchasing Law and the Oklahoma Merit Protection System Law. He chaired the Oklahoma State Senate Roads and Highways Committee. During his legislative tenure, he accomplished his goal of building a four-lane highway from Ardmore, Oklahoma, to the oil patch located in western Carter County, Oklahoma. On May 27, 2003, that highway was named “Tom Tipps Highway”.
Tom and his wife, Irene, owned and operated a family business in Ardmore since 1946. Tom was a member of the American Legion, Disabled Veterans and a life time member of the VFW. He was a twice past commander of VFW Post 4574. He was a lifetime member of Masonic Lodge.
He was preceded in death by his daughter, Janie Tipps, who was the secretary of the Carter County Election Board, and by his wife, Irene Tipps with whom he had been married 60 years. He was also preceded in death by his sister, Opal Huddleston; brothers, Harry Tipps, Homer Tipps, Willard Tipps, and Harold Tipps.
He is survived by two sons, John Wayne Tipps, Yukon, Oklahoma, and his wife, Lea Tipps; son, Michael D. Tipps and wife, Deborah Tipps; a brother, Grover H Tipps, Jr.; three grandsons, Robin Thomas Tipps, Jamie Tipps and his wife, Hillary and Ryan Tipps.
Pallbearers will be Robin Thomas Tipps, Jamie Jonathan Tipps, Ryan Thomas Tipps, Chad Tipps, Rod Tipps and Ronnie Tipps. Honorary bearers will include Dr. Fred Gauthier, Phillip Todd, John Yeatts, Billy Harold Tipps, Steven Clifft, Ronnie Harbour and Harry Tipps.
Condolences may be expressed to the family online at www.craddockfuneralhome.com.