Lifelong Chester resident Ralph Kipp, 95, emerged from the Oct. 24 tornado uninjured, unscathed and calm.
A lucky man, Kipp rode out the EF3 tornado alone at his home, while winds destroyed the 100-year-old dairy barn on his property and trees surrounding his house were uprooted and tossed on the roof of his house.
Conversations with Ralph's son Dale Kipp, as well as Ralph himself and Lyle Kipp, his other son, tell us how lucky Ralph Kipp really was.
They said that as the storm was approaching, Barb Bierman, who owns and operates Barb's Bounty Restaurant next door to Kipp's home, came over to check on him. Kipp, who is primarily wheelchair bound, is famously self-sufficient and opted to stay in his home -- saying the storm might not even hit Chester. Bierman left to take shelter in a corner of her restaurant.
The storm not only hit Chester, it made a direct hit on the Kipp property. The large red dairy barn, a landmark in Chester, was toppled to the ground, a total loss. Trees all around the house had collapsed onto it, destroying a large portion of the roof.
Bierman, who survived the tornado uninjured, ran out for assistance and went back to Kipp's house to check on him. Dale Kipp says she found him uninjured and entirely calm.
The lower level of the home was largely untouched, but the roof had serious damage. The following day, with Kipp's two sons, Dale and Lyle, having traveled immediately to Chester, work began to remove trees and to tarp the upper story.
According to Dale Kipp, even though the roof was badly damaged and the upper story exposed, damage to his dad's personal items was minimal.
Kipp was born on the family milk farm on the northern edge of Chester. He still lives in the home where he was born and efforts are underway to repair his home.
The original structure was built around 1860. Through the years many changes and improvements have taken place to bring the home to the condition it was prior to the tornado on Oct. 24. And now more changes and improvements will take place to the property. The legacy continues.
Chester area residents are sad to see that the beautiful red barn is now gone, but many have expressed gratitude that Mr. Kipp is well and unharmed.