Alfred H. (Al) Tipps, a WWII combat veteran, former Chattanooga and St. Paul, Minnesota, business executive, and community volunteer, died August 10, 2019. He was 96. He was preceded in death earlier this year by his beloved wife of 78 years, Jean Elliott Tipps. Mr. Tipps, the son of Alf and Dollie Plemmons Tipps, was born on September 7, 1922 in Estill Springs, Tennessee. He was a 1940 graduate of Franklin County (Decherd) High School where he was president of his senior class, captain of the football team and a member of the National Honor Society. There he met the love of his life, Wilma Jean Elliott, and their classmates voted them "Most in Love.” They married in April 1941.
Aspiring to attend The University of the South, he signed up for a year in the National Guard in order to save money for room and board. However, his plans changed drastically after the attack on Pearl Harbor. His National Guard unit was incorporated in to the U.S. Army and he spent over four years serving as a staff sergeant in the 191st Field Artillery, Battery A of Patton’s 3rd Army. The 191st Field Artillery Battalion entered the European theater on Utah Beach in the weeks immediately following D-Day. It participated in the breakout from Normandy, the relief of the Battle of the Bulge, and the crossing of the Rhine. It visited the first concentration camp liberated by the Americans. Mr. Tipps was honorably discharged from the Army in 1945.
Following his military service, Mr. and Mrs. Tipps, and an infant son, Wayne, moved to Chattanooga where Mr. Tipps attended the University of Chattanooga on the G.I. bill. He began work in 1945 with American Lava Corporation as an hourly worker in the machine shop. By the late 1960’s, Mr. Tipps had risen to Plant Manager of American Lava’s Chattanooga, TN and Laurens, S.C. plants, where he had responsibility for over 2000 employees. In 1974, following 3M Company’s acquisition of American Lava, Mr. Tipps and his family moved to St Paul, Minnesota, the world headquarters of 3M. During his time in St. Paul, Mr. Tipps served as the Director of Manufacturing of the Technical Ceramic Products Division of 3M and became Chairman of the Manufacturing Council for 3M worldwide. He finished his career at 3M as Director of International Marketing with the Electro-Products Group where he traveled extensively throughout Europe. He retired from 3M in 1980 after 35 years, and he and his wife moved back to Chattanooga where they spent the remainder of their lives.
Mr. and Mrs. Tipps had three sons, Dr. Wayne E. Tipps, Dr. Steven P. Tipps, both oral surgeons in Chattanooga, and John Mark Tipps, an attorney and now teacher and coach in Nashville. In his later years, Mr. Tipps was active in the Service Core of Retired Executives (SCORE) and with Red Bank Baptist Church, where he had been a member since the late 1940s. He and Jean, were also volunteers for the Meals on Wheels program. As a living witness to history, Mr. Tipps was sometimes asked to speak to community groups or students about his WWII service. During those occasions he always focused on the valor of his fallen comrades, and he remembered and thought of them throughout his life right to the end. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and a friend to many. In addition to his wife, Mr. Tipps was preceded in death by his parents, Alf (1967) and Dollie Plemmons Tipps (1939). He is survived by his three sons, Wayne (Valerie), Steve (Mary Leslie), and Mark (Joi); 8 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren. Burial will be at the National Cemetery on August 21, 2019 at 10 o’clock, graveside service only. Dr. Fred Steelman will be officiating.
Memorial contributions can be made to Red Bank Baptist Church, 4000 Dayton Blvd. or Salvation Army.
Arrangements entrusted to Lane Funeral Home, 605 Ashland Terrace, Chattanooga, TN 37415 www.lanefh.com 423-877-3524