Bill Lippert

BillLippert_v2_200(d. 1991)

Bill Lippert, a dear friend to many champions of the Au Sable, died February 5, 1991 after a seven month long battle with lung cancer. He was a founding director of the Anglers and was always a team player for some of the Anglers’ earliest projects, including sponsorship of the 1988 GLC Conclave in Roscommon. Bill hailed from Barberton, Ohio, where he and his wife, Nancy, operated the family truck sales and repair business.

After retiring in 1981, Bill and Nancy sold the fifth wheel they used for vacations and purchased a cottage along Big Creek in Lovells Township. They christened their new home Wind Knots Lodge and it was here that Bill took up wood carving, an interest he’d had ever since childhood. He also was a voracious reader, reading all of Hemingway as well as books on psychology, philosophy and even the occasional book on fly tying. Though Bill was a promising carver and an avid golfer, his true passion was fly fishing, especially for large fish during the late evening hatches in June and July. (Among the directors at the time, Bill held the unofficial record for a caught and released brown trout, a 24-inch lunker caught on a Muddler Minnow in the first hole below the Upper High Banks stretch of the South Branch).

Never a self-promoter, Bill was content to work behind the scene. Retirement and living in the Grayling area afforded him the time to work on little projects he and Rusty Gates would cook up. It was people like Bill Lippert that were the backbone of the Anglers’ early years, where wisdom, an unselfish willingness to do the tedious work without complaint, and a quick smile to break the tensions of spirited debate during our board meetings were both welcome and enjoyable personal qualities.

Though his beloved wife Nancy passed away in January 1998, the spirit of Wind Knots Lodge lives on and is enjoyed by their two sons, Robin and Chuck, and their families, as well as a grateful few friends.

[Read Dan Drislane’s memories of his fishing partner below.]

Putzing Around with Bill

by Dan Drislane

[Reprinted from The RIVERWATCH, Spring 1990 issue.]

Founding member and long-time catch-and-release champion Bill Lippert succumbed to cancer this past February after a six-month battle. The Anglers and lovers of the Au Sable have lost a good friend. He was my fishing buddy.

Without wondering about too many of my civilized problems, Bill always did a bang-up job of making me realize why I left Detroit each weekend. Of this he wasn’t aware, I’m sure. But fishing with Bill was a soothing pastime—a quiet time on the water.

Bill Lippert was vested. He paid his dues. Having retired several years ago from the family truck dealership in Barberton, Ohio, Bill and his wife Nancy were able to spend most of the spring-to-fall season at their cabin along Big Creek. And that’s when the putzing started. True putzing. He’d putz with Nancy to look for birds. He’d putz over to Rusty’s shop on his errand runs to town. He would putz around with his basswood carvings. And he’d putz with me and my friends.

If this enviable pastime ended as he stepped into the river, I’m not sure. Bill wasn’t much for talking when he fished. Balanced me just wonderfully! In fact, on our midnight forays to the High Banks, I’d rely on the seemingly regular reports of “fish noise” coming from where Bill was and I wasn’t. Bill caught more fish than I. Always. It was all that putzing!

The High Banks of the South Branch are really Bill’s Banks. My quiet friend caught every brown trout in that stretch, including the two foot grand-daddy he landed (putzers don’t lie) on a Muddler two seasons ago. That’s not to say he didn’t fish elsewhere. Many times Bill navigated the stretch below Potter’s on the mainstream, or waded the North Branch; but left to his own devices, Father High Banks could be found blessing just that.

I instinctively gravitated to this man. Most of all, he reminded me of my late father, right down to the waxy white hair, ruddy face and freckled arms. Sort of a throwback to the wonder years of my youth: fishing with Dad. I also like people who don’t say much, except only when they need to. Bill was a true listening man, and as a board member of The Anglers, that was a gracious—and rare—commodity.

My admiration for Bill is summed up by his laugh. It made you feel good. You really knew the quiet putzer was enjoying himself thoroughly. The eyes twinkled and the spirit was never more alive.

The River is safe with my friend as it is with others before him and as it will be with us one day. Fishing buddies, and why we fish with them; that is what it’s all about. Tight lines, Bill.