Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tipton Family Reunion a Success!

Children and husbands and their children of the 36 Tipton cousins

With some trepidation I awoke this past Sunday morning where I was staying at my brother's home in East Brandywine Township (Downingtown) to cloudy skies.  Oh no, I guaranteed sunny skies for the Tipton Family Reunion which was to take place at noon.  I signed on to my brother's computer and checked the weather forecast and was much relieved to find that the skies were clear later in the morning.

After my breakfast (a bowl of Corn Chex with a banana) I headed out to the East Brandywine Community Park to get the tables ready for the reunion which was to begin at 12 noon.

Debbie White Fincke with Tipton Family Reunion sign

As I was putting on the many colored light tablecloths (actually very thin plastic) that I had purchased at Walmart, the wind picked up.  The wind has always been a problem at this park.  The East Brandywine Community Park is a beautiful park but it is located on high flat land which was a crop field of a former field.  I knew I would have trouble with these tablecloths.  Even with the weights on the tablecloths , the wind was still blowing the tablecloths off the tables.

I made an executive decision and got in my car and made an emergency run to Wegmans.  I had a couple of more expensive table cloths from Wegmans and they were holding their own with the wind.

By the time I got back to the park with my new tablecloths, cousin Dick Tipton and his wife Linda had arrived.  Dick and Linda were going to help me with the food.  SHOWTIME!

East Brandywine Community Park, Downingtown, PA 2010

While putting on the new tablecloths my cell phone rang.  On the other end was Cousin Darlene Ford.  She couldn't find the park.  There are three pavilions at the East Brandywine Park.  I told her it was the last one.  In a few minutes Darlene pulled in the lot.  Now we were ready to go.  Darlene, Dick and Linda were my lifesavers.  A few minutes later Darlene's sister Rita Buxbaum arrived to lend a helping hand.
The Alison Pavilion, East Brandywine Community Park 2010

We had our sign in book at the table at the entrance to the pavilion.  Blank name tags were ready for marking to identify cousins.  Ready to go!

Me multi-tasking at the sign in table

The first official arrivals were Cousin Bob Tipton and his wife Marie and their daughter Sharon.  They had come all the way up from Marietta, Georgia.

Me greeting Tom Cruse, Terri Porter-Cruse's husband

We all greeted Cousin Bob with a warm hug.  I don't know how many years it has been since we've seen Bob but it has been too long.  It seems that in our adult years the only time we see our cousins are at funerals.  This is one of the reasons I decided to restart the family reunions, to bring the family back together again.

Louise Tipton White greeting her nephew, Tom Tipton, Jr.

When we were little kids, our parents used to have frequent family reunions at places like Lenape and Kerr Park in Downingtown.  However, over the years as the original eleven Tipton brothers died off and their thirty six children (yes, I have thirty five first cousins) grew into adulthood, we drifted apart.

The Tipton First Cousins

Back in 1993 Dude's girls (my uncle Luther Raymond Tipton) decided to have a family reunion for the remaining surviving Tipton brothers.  Dude's girls are: Donna, Rita, Darlene and Joy.  This reunion was held at the Westwood Fire Company outside of Coatesville, PA.

Linda Tipton, Dick Tipton, Bob Tipton and Darlene Tipton Ford

In 1994 I held the next Tipton Family reunion at the same location.  My goal was to gather information for my genealogy research of the Tipton family.  I also wanted to take pictures but I wasn't able to do too much because I was too busy cooking hamburgers.  Cousin Dick Tipton saw my dilemma and rescued me from my Hamburger Stress.

1993 Tipton Family Reunion 1993 Westwood Fire Company, Coatesville, PA

I held the next Tipton Family reunion in October of 1997 at the present location, the East Brandywine Community park.  I thought at that time we were on way to more frequent family reunions but life interfered.  The next thing I knew, thirteen years had passed and our family had not had a family reunion.

1997 Tipton Family Reunion, East Brandywine Community Park, Downingtown, PA

Last year Cousin Dick Tipton asked me when we were having another family reunion.  Dick question got me to thinking that it's been too long since we had a family reunion.  I told him I would coordinate and make arrangements for the family reunion.

Jeff Tipton greeting his uncle Ed Tipton (with Charles Tipton sitting to side) at 1997 reunion

All of the eleven Tipton brothers have since passed on since the last reunion in 1997.  Also several of the thirty-six cousins have passed on and the surviving cousins weren't getting any younger.  So I decided, that as long as I can, I will hold annual family reunions.

My brother John called from his home in Greenville, South Carolina yesterday to ask me how the reunion went  He was concerned that it wouldn't be a success and I would be disappointed.  I was very glad to tell him that the reunion was a wonderful success!  Not every one could make it to the reunion but for those who did, we all had a wonderful time.  After many years, the Tipton cousins were reunited again.  There were many hugs and warm greetings of long absent cousins.

Most of the Tipton cousins now have adult children and many of them have children who are entering into their teen years.  It was a special treat for me to meet my first cousins once and twice removed for the first time.  Many of them I have been in contact with on Facebook but meeting them in person was special.  My only regret was that I didn't have enough time to socialize and get to know them better.

1960 Tipton Family Reunion, Kerr Park, Downingtown, PA (Tipton kids)

I also had a friend roaming around to take pictures but I still didn't have enough pictures.  Even with all the help that cousins Darlene, Rita, Dick and Linda Tipton were providing I was still running around writing name tags and making sure those tablecloths weren't blowing in the wind.

Even though things could have ran more smoothly yesterday, the reunion was a great success.  The weather was beautiful, the food delicious, and being with family was wonderful.

This may be the digital age with the dominance of social networks like My Space and Facebook but there is nothing like an old fashioned family reunion.

1960 Tipton Family Reunion, Kerr Park, Downingtown, PA (Tipton Women)

Thank you to everyone for contributing to making the reunion such a success.

Mark your calendars because the next family reunion is planned for October of 2011!
The sons of Fieldon and Hester Tipton
1960 Tipton Family Reunion
Kerr Park, Downingtown, PA


  1. Congratulations, Ron!. It is good to read (and see) that the reunion was a big success.

  2. Looks like great fun. Glad the weather gods were in your favour.

  3. Liberty and Independence,

    Yes, the reunion was a huge success. I was starting to get embarrassed by the number of people who were thanking me for bringing everyone together after so many years. I'm going to hold reunions every year from here on out as long as I last. Family is so important. One of the comments that really struck me was that if not for the reunion the family would probably have lost touch with everyone forever. That has happened with so many families, including mine on my Mother's side. I won't let it happen on my father's side as long as I'm physically able to pull off these family reunions.

    It was so wonderful to see so many smiles. And as an unexpected bonus, several long standing family feuds were reconciled. That alone made the reunion well worth the time, effort and expense of putting it all together.

  4. Wayne,

    I DID guarantee perfect weather. :)


  5. Wow! Facebook was just the Cliff's Notes for this event. I think it's amazing that you took so much time and effort to organize this event Ron. Then to document it so well with all the old photos! I guess this kinda stuff falls to me in my family sometimes. Only hope I could pull off something like this so well. Congrats! (Was there a speech? :)

  6. Anonymous12:09 PM

    Hi Ron,

    You must feel so satisfied that the Tipton family reunion went on without a hitch. You can tell by all the smiling faces that it was successful.

    All my aunts, uncles, and my Mom on my Mother's side are now deceased so that leaves just the cousins & their families. If we ever have a family reunion it would have to be planned by me as no one else seems interested that I've talked to.

    On my father's side I only have four aunts left and a slew of cousins. There were 16 children in his family. If I ever do attempt to do a reunion this would be huge! I'm still thinking about it.

    Thanks for sharing !


  7. That is so cool. Sharing all the old family memories must have been very rewarding. I would love to have a family reunion but my family is too freaky.

  8. Fran,

    Do it! You will be surprised at how rewarding it is to bring together family members after many years. Holding my family reunion was the best thing I've done in years. Sure, no one else is interested in putting it together but you have to get passed that. Believe me, it is well worth the effort. I'm doing one every year now as long as I can hold up physically. I'm going to be an institution for holding family reunions.


  9. Mike,

    Hold that family reunion! I bet your family is no more freaky than mine. :) The stories I can tell, especially from the reunion Sunday. Yet, I still got the families together.
    The night before the reunion I got an e-mail from the current wife of one of my first cousins. She told me they were coming. Just earlier that day I was talking to his ex-wife and I asked her if her ex-husband was coming. She said "That asshole! I won't come if he's coming!" Welll I didn't tell her because she was also bringing her tow grown sons who I rarely see. So I was all set for fireworks but guess what happened? Nothing happened! That's the way it's supposed to work Mike. You only get one family. They should all be together. That is one of the purposes of reunions. Reuniting. I loved the way things turned out.

  10. Something to think about.

  11. Ben,

    Thanks for all the compliments! Believe it, pulling the reunion together was a labor of love.

    I posted the video of my "speech" on FB this afternoon. It was a lot shorter than I thought. It seemed so long when I gave it.

    If you do put your reunion together, you'll love it.


  12. That's funny how the speech seemed so much longer.

  13. Ben,
    When I was giving the "speech" it did seem a lot longer that it actually was. Interesting.



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