Surprising each other. Following a passion. Utilizing talents to serve others. These three things may just be the secrets to a happy marriage. At least they are partially responsible for keeping Barb and Burton TeKippe happy for 59 years of wedded bliss. Both Barb and Burt have servant hearts, donating their time and talents differently. Barb plays the piano for worship services at Kentucky Ridge Assisted Living and Heritage Care Center when Pastor Kathy leads their services. Barb was acquainted with Pastor Kathy from her early years working in Hospice, but she gained a new appreciation for Kathy while watching her interact with the residents who attend her worship services. “I will cherish my time spent with Pastor Kathy,” Barb said. “She gives exactly what these residents need. She’s so compassionate with them.” Barb explained that so many of the residents want to talk with Kathy after the service. When she communicates with them, she always touches their hand or shoulder, providing that personal touch that people need.
In fact, when Barb talks about her list of “3 Reasons to join Trinity,” Pastor Kathy is at the top. “When I watched Kathy at Hospice…well, I was eavesdropping is what I was doing,” Barb started with a chuckle. “She brought families together, and her prayers brought me to tears.” Reason #2 was previous Music Director Kim Reisinger. Barb (and Burt) attended another church and went home to listen to Trinity’s services on the radio, falling in love with Kim’s music. The third reason was Becky Elsbernd. Barb was involved with the parish health ministries at St. James Lutheran, and Becky “was the best we had!” And Barb was quick to mention another crucial “reason” that happened after she and Burt visited Trinity and filled out a visitor card. The TeKippes received “SUCH a nice phone call” from LouAnn Rossler. “I would’ve joined Trinity just having talked to LouAnn!” Barb exclaimed.
Trinity gained two fantastic people with Barb and Burt, and with Burt, Trinity even gained a woodworker! Burt made the side table in the sanctuary from an old church railing, among many other things in the church. Along with a couple of other talented woodworkers at Trinity, Paul Charlson and Gary Wattnem, Burt built the outdoor altar and shortened pews during the church remodeling. He also made a portable folding wooden podium for the Lion’s Club, and he helped build the wooden trains in East Park, the YMCA, and Parker’s Woods.
Originally the owner of the ice company in Mason City, Burt started working there when he was 7 years old, helping his dad. He remembers being paid a whole dime an hour! Later, he worked part-time when he was in school and moved into full-time employment there after graduation. If he didn’t know how to do something, he read a book or took a class. He learned refrigeration and mechanics and later taught refrigeration courses at the college level.
Over the years, Burt has turned into a jack of all trades. If he’s curious about something, he learns about it. After selling the ice company, he followed his passion and got his pilot’s license. Later, he taught flight lessons, helping 28 people to get their commercial licenses. Passionate about helping people, Burt is especially compassionate regarding Native Americans. He has done mission work seven different times at the Rosebud Reservation in Mission, SD. “I get into all kinds of things, you know,” Burt said with a twinkle in his eye.
One endearing thing about the TeKippe couple is their love of surprising each other. Barb recently surprised Burt with a trip to Normandy with his son and grandson, which they are very much looking forward to. For his 60th birthday, Barb sent him to Space Camp. Both Barb and Burt took a trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons to take a photography course from Henry H. Holdsworth. The couple has gone on many trips either planned by them or given to them by their children. They have visited over 16 countries and every state in the nation. “We have been blessed!” Barb said. Burt added, “The best trips are spur of the moment!”
The surprises aren’t all travel-related, however. Burt once surprised Barb with several 300-pound blocks of ice, each carved into a letter to spell “Merry Christmas” in their front yard. “When spring came that year, we didn’t have to water the lawn!” Barb laughed. “It keeps life interesting!” Another surprise from Burt was the harp he gave Barb one Christmas. With her background in playing the piano and pipe organ, she has always had an affinity for music. After listening to a harper (which most people mistakenly call a “harpist,” according to Barb), she fell in love with the instrument and began taking lessons with her newly-acquired surprise harp. Little did the TeKippes know that this harp would be the thing that sold them on their current home. Once they saw the gorgeous floor-to-ceiling living room windows, they knew that the harp belonged there. They now have front-row seats to watch wildlife and ever-changing views of Mother Nature at her finest, of course with the bonus of a spectacular spot for playing harp music simultaneously. This couple has a love of life that they can’t hide, and they have loved sharing it with their three children and two grandchildren…and several dogs and cats along the way. They have opened their home to host guests from all over the world, learning new things from their visitors to reinforce what an awesome world this is. “We want to make a difference in others’ lives,” Barb said. She and Burt agreed that they love volunteer work, especially when it allows them to be more one-on-one with others and get to know them.
Barb’s praises for Trinity surfaced once more. “You know what’s so good [about Trinity]?” she asked. In a beat, she answered, “The APPRECIATION when you have done anything!” Burt added, “When you do something, it’s not for the recognition… A little appreciation goes a long way, though.” Burt said that Trinity is a servant church full of “talented people who get you to do something that you’re talented at doing!”
Using their talents. Putting them to good use. Smiling all the while. The TeKippes are walking testimonies to this. A little twinkle in their eyes, surprises thrown in here and there, and a genuine mutual admiration for each other help keep them happy and healthy enough to make a difference in so many lives.†