Guest view: Farewell to a real gentlemen

2014-08-19T00:00:00Z Guest view: Farewell to a real gentlemenBy DAN MANKA The Billings Gazette
August 19, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Last week I had the privilege to hear Ian B. Tippet’s last public speech in Glacier National Park. Tippet has worked in the lodges of the park for the past 63 years. He is an English gentleman, and through the years in Montana he has never lost his accent nor his demeanor as such.

During his career, he worked untiringly from before sunup until sundown. Armed with his manual typewriter, he personally corresponded with thousands of applicants each year, writing letters to both the applicants and to all their references for the jobs. He hired all the concession employees for the entire park, but he hand-picked those of us who worked directly for him at Many Glacier Hotel.

Each year during his term as manager of Many Glacier, he maintained a Broadway musical, Thursday serenades, weekly hootenannies and sing-alongs of old songs from the West and the Roaring ‘20s.

Many Glacier had a full orchestra and a 35-voice choir. Once a small plane was used to fly in a string bass from Minneapolis for the orchestra and musical.

England is home

Ian told me privately that he is going home to England. After 63 years in Glacier, England is still his “home.” He told me, “Six five-star hotels in London have asked me to work for them.” He is in his mid-80s. They do not want him to vacuum the carpet, they want him for his wisdom and experience running a hotel and working with the public. As a young man he was trained by Mr. Hilton himself. Tippet is a man of character.

Tippet’s words in his farewell speech would be far overshadowed by the loving words of the thousands of former employees who would all testify of their great love and respect for “Mr. T.” I have seen many times over the words of some of these employees of the past who are passionate about their admiration for the manager of “the old barn,” as Ian sometimes affectionately called the 99-year-old Many Glacier Hotel. It was a pleasure for our family to see Ian on the lawn of Glacier Park Lodge and to sing Happy Birthday to him. In closing, Mr. Tippet, may I use your own words from J 975 and turn them back on you to say your work at Many Glacier was “First class! First class!”

Thank you, Mr. Tippet, for your influence in my life during the past 39 years.

Dan Manka lives in Fairmont, W.Va.

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