HOUGHTON, MI. - Rev. Konstantin "Kon" Wipp, 99, the eldest United Methodist minister of the Detroit conference, died at the Omega House in Houghton on Friday, August 3, 2012.
He was born on the island of Saaremma, Estonia on November 15, 1912, a son of the late Martin and Sophia (Lember) Wipp, where he lived for the first 4 years of his life. He had lived with his mother, brother Julius, and grandma and grandpa Wipp as his father was drafted into the Russian army. Later, his sister Melina was born. At the age of 8 years, he started school, going 6 days a week, but having 4 months off in the summer to help on the family farm and with fishing.
Later, a brother Alexsei and a sister Rose were born but they died of scarlet fever a week apart at the ages of 4 and 1 respectively. At the age of 14 Kon took over the family garden and still enjoyed gardening, even in retirement. At 17, he became interested in religion. His family was Russian Orthodox, but he joined the Methodist Church at 18 years old.
He had to service on year in the military, so he became a presidential and prime minister guard in the independent Estonian army at the parliament hall and the last 4 months at the president's home. He returned home to join his father and partner in fishing for ocean eels. He also worked at the local Methodist church office in 1936 where he began taking university courses and preaching part time in preparation for the seminary and learning to speak German and English. He met his future wife Endla, at church and they were married on Feb. 8, 1940 later followed by the birth of their daughter, Tiiu.
In the summer of 1944 he was drafted into the German army, but due to illness he didn't fight for the Germans. On Sept. 21, 1944 he was captured by the German Marines and sent to a prison camp. He escaped to Sweden on a Navy ship, arriving on Swedish soil on Oct. 9, 1944. He entered into the Scandinavian seminary in Goteburg and graduated in the spring of 1947. In 1948 he was ordained as a minister by the Swedish Conference of the Methodist Church. During those years, his wife died to TB, and his daughter was raised by her aunt.
Kon came to the USA on July 1, 1949, landing in New York. He came to Michigan to be near a friend and became the pastor of the Marquette Grace Methodist Church, Skandia Methodist Church, and served at Camp Michigamme in many capacities including camp director.
In 1951 he was sent to Grand Marais, where he served the McMillan, Engadine, Germfask, and Grand Marais churches on Sundays and the Trout Lake Church on Tuesdays, a 150 mile circuit. There he met his future wife, Ethel (Newberg) Hill, and they were married on August 2, 1953 at the Finnish Methodist Church in Ishpeming. His step-children Sandra and Dan also became part of his family.
He also served churches in Norway, L'Anse, Zeba, Baraga, Escanaba, Gwinn, Salisbury, and Munising until his retirement to AuTrain in 1978. He remained active in the he Marquette Prison ministry and Michigamme Methodist Institute much of that time.
Kon is survived by his daughters Tiiu of Estonia (being reunited in 1991) and Sandra (William) Mannisto of Houghton; a son, Dan of Algonac, MI; 7 grandchildren: Marilisa (Scott) Moore of Chappequa, NY, Mark (Karen) Mannisto of Milwaukee, Rev. Michael (Michele) Mannisto of Rudyard, Rene (Mark) Young of Warren, Celeste (Tim) Schultz of Arizona, and Piiret (Aiver) Borg and Arti Vaas both of Estonia; several great grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be held at the Munising United Methodist Church on Thursday at 11:30 A.M. Burial will be in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Grand Marais. Friends may call at the church on Thursday from 9:30 until the 11:30 A.M. time of services.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be directed to Camp Michigamme or charity of the donors choice. The O'Neill-Dennis Funeral Home in Hancock and Bowerman Funeral Home in Munising are assisting with the funeral arrangements.