Bob Hipple, 64, was born in Seattle and grew up in an area called Medina in Bellevue, Wash., down the street from where Bill Gates now lives but back when it was a family housing area on Lake Washington.
He was the middle child of three. His parents were Jack and Jill Hipple. Jill’s real name was Nadja and she was of Czechoslovakian descent, but she didn’t use her real name during the time period when Russian sounding names carried an unpleasant political connotation.
Bob’s father was the manager of a large insurance firm and his mother was a stay-at-home mom who occasionally held part-time jobs outside the home.
Bob graduated from Bellevue High in 1972 and moved to Salt Lake City and landed a summer job loading freight cars with canned food.
“That taught me I wanted to go home and go back to college,” he recalled.
Back in Bellevue, he was introduced to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and joined the church at 20. He later served as bishop for the Enterprise LDS church.
He met his wife, Helene, in 1974 while attending community college where he was studying forestry. The couple married in 1975.
Shortly thereafter he went to work for his father-in-law Veryle Berthout in the family construction business and built homes until the late ‘70s. After that, he became a carpenter at Boeing and worked there for eight years but didn’t really like working in a factory environment.
He’d gotten his insurance agent’s license on the side, and when he reached the point that he was making double his income with that side-job, he left Boeing to be a full-time agent.
His career took another turn in 1996 when he capitalized on his sales skills with a move to a company that sold software to businesses like Shaklee and Avon. He eventually became the vice president of sales.
Along the way, he and Helene had six children: four boys and two girls. One of the girls lives in Enterprise and one of the boys lives in Wallowa, and the rest are scattered through the western states.
In 2006 he opened a consulting company related to software sales, and he and Helene moved to Enterprise. Helene had graduated from Portland State University with a master’s degree in Music and taught music in Wallowa Schools after the couple moved to the county.
One of Bob’s clients during this time was Scentsy, and he became the vice president of sales for them when they were first beginning. He also developed several direct sales companies, which he operated in partnerships until he “retired” to go on an 18-month historical service mission to Nauvoo, Mo., for the church.
The couple returned from that mission this past summer, but hopes to go on another.
Bob and Helene enjoy giving to their community through their church. Bob was the bishop for six years, a boy scout leader and has worked in the Young Men and Young Women’s organizations in the church.
Q. Why settle in Wallowa County?
A. We were introduced to the county through Boy Scouts. I brought the organization here from Vancouver, Wash., to do their 50-mile hikes and instantly fell in love with the county. It’s a small town that has a community. Where we were north of Vancouver did not have that community. At the time, we had six children and careers and we didn’t think we could move here. As soon as the last child was grown, we moved here.
Q. What do you think Wallowa County has taught you?
A. I think it’s really taught us how to be involved with other people in their lives because you all live together here. How to slow down and just enjoy the people and the community around you. To me it’s real life. There’s not as much focus on how much you have — I love that, love it.
Q. Can you recall a book you read as a child that had a real effect on you and can you recommend a book you’ve read recently?
A. I remember the exact book, “My Side of the Mountain.” I wasn’t a good reader as a child, and that book really got me to where I loved to read — and you can see the influence, it probably brought me here with my wife. Of course the book that had the biggest impact on me was the Book of Mormon. A book I’m reading now is “Contagious” by Jonah Burger about how things “catch on” and “go viral.” It’s a fascinating book. I just ordered “Temperance Creek,” too. I can’t wait until it gets here.