Gary Melvin Hipps Sr.

Published 12:53 pm Wednesday, April 29, 2009

With these words, Geoffrey Chaucer sketched a memorable picture of the Oxford cleric in The Canterbury Tales. If Melvin Hipps were to be described by one word, it would have to be &dquo;Teacher.&dquo;

Melvin Hipps was a true renaissance man who had a love and passion for teaching.&bsp; Melvin&squo;s high expectations, dedication, care, and wit forever influenced those who would eventually flow through his classes. Melvin was passionate about teaching, true teaching. Not rote memory and recitation, but an ability to think creatively, feel passionately and express with the written word a true understanding of a piece of literature or prose. Melvin was a kindred spirit to William Faulkner in that he too believed that &dquo;It is the writer&squo;s privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart.&dquo; Everybody who knew Melvin knew that he had a keen wit and sense of humor and could wield biting sarcasm like a mighty scimitar. Not with cruelty or meanness, but with admiration and affection.

The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. There is no doubt that Melvin Hipps was well loved. Melvin was a beloved son, brother, husband, father, teacher, poet, musician, and friend who adored his wife, children and grandchildren. Although he ultimately lost his battle, Melvin loved the best in life until the very end, his family and friends.

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Dr. Gary Melvin Hipps Sr., of Seneca, S.C., died on April 22, 2009. He was the son of the late William Judson Hipps and Ethel Clark Hipps of Tryon. His sister, Mary Sue Hipps, predeceased him. He was born in Starnes Cove, N.C., on April 23, 1937.

He earned the B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the M.A.T. and Ed.D. degrees from Duke University, and the MLIS degree from the University of North Texas. At UNC he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow in graduate school. He was a James B. Duke Fellow at Duke.

Dr. Hipps held the following positions at Furman University in Greenville, S.C.:&bsp; professor of English and education, chairman of the education department, and associate academic dean. At Dallas Baptist University, Dallas, Texas, he was director of the library/learning center and professor of education. He was executive director of the Baylor University Dental School and Medical Center Library at Dallas. He was also director of university libraries at Mercer University Atlanta. At Anderson University, Anderson, S.C., Dr. Hipps was vice president for academic affairs and academic dean. He retired from that position in 1999. During Dr. Hipps&squo; tenure, Anderson College went from being a two-year institution to a four-year institution and was granted full accreditation in its new status from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Dr. Hipps was instrumental in the creation and expansion of Anderson&squo;s baccalaureate program and successful accreditation effort.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Dr. Opal Shepard Hipps, a son, Gary Melvin Hipps Jr., and his wife, Cynthia Tucker Hipps, of Piedmont, S.C., a daughter, Julia Hipps Vasquez, and her husband, John Vasquez of Wichita Falls, Texas, and two grandchildren, Tucker William Hipps and Rachael Elaine Vasquez.

Services were held at the First Baptist Church Clemson on Sunday, May 3.

Memorial gifts may be made to First Baptist Church of Clemson, 397 College Avenue, Clemson S.C. 29631.

Condolences may be expressed online at or in person at Duckett-Robinson Funeral Home, Central-Clemson Commons.

Duckett-Robinson Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.