Nora L. (Saunders) Chipman
July 15, 2016
Nora L. (Saunders) Chipman, 90, passed away June 24 at the Garden House of Brookdale in Gardnerville, Nev., after battling dementia for several years.
Ever a talker, Nora was still telling stories of her childhood in Winnemucca, Nev. A proud third generation Nevadan, she was the third child and only girl of Frank and Lorene (Richardson) Saunders. If you knew the words to "Home Means Nevada" you were okay with her.
Nora grew up during the depression learning to save and make do, something she never lost.
Music was always a part of Nora's life. She and her dad used to sing duets for the Methodist Church as well as the County Courthouse where Frank was a commissioner.
In high school Nora sang concerts and aspired to sing for a "big band" like that of Glenn Miller.
She loved playing the trombone in the marching band at Winnemucca High School–remembering how they would play for July 4th celebrations in the middle of the busy intersection of two highways in the downtown.
Nora also played the piano, particularly "boogie-woogie". She remembered sitting down at the piano to play one time and someone remarked, "Isn't there anything you don't do?"
Church always came first in her family, but after Sunday services she and her parents would head off into the surrounding mountains prospecting for gold. ("I don't know what my brothers were doing.") The lure of working in the mines is what brought her father from Redruth, Cornwall, England. As an English tin miner, he and others like him were highly sought after during the rush to make fortunes from the minerals in Nevada. He met and married Lorene who also came from mining stock.
An avid swimmer, Nora was sent by the town of Winnemucca on the train to Utah to take life-saving courses from the Red Cross and learn how to teach swimming even though she wasn't even out of high school. With most men fighting in WWII, it was decided she was the best person to teach the area children how to swim. She remembered how the older women of the town also asked her to teach them, but that they insisted on meeting at 7 a.m.–in the cold of the morning so the "dirty old men wouldn't be sitting around the benches by the pool watching."
She was the first in the family to go to college, graduating from the University of Nevada in Reno. She worked her entire way through college–waiting tables, setting pins at the bowling alley, and teaching young GIs to dance through the USO.
Nora excelled in college where she was a member of the Sagehens, worked on the yearbook and was named to "Who's Who" of university students. She even represented the student body at a conference in Minnesota–taking the first airplane ride of her life in the days when few rode airplanes.
As the war was ending and the GIs were coming home, her brother Albert and his friend, Glen, turned up in Winnemucca. Nora and Glen attended UNR together and although he didn't have much besides shear persistence and good dance moves, on Aug.15,1948, Nora became the wife of Glen Chipman of Golconda, Nev.
After graduation, Nora worked as a counselor for the "older girls" for the Nevada State Children's Home, as it was called then. An imposing structure on what was then Prison Road (later 5th Street) in Carson City, the "orphanage" housed children of all ages who were wards of the state.
Glen got a job with the Nevada Highway Department and the young couple moved to and lived in most of the smaller and distant corners of Nevada. Nora managed to create a home and raise two small children in a small travel trailer with no toilet on the move in places where things like super markets and doctors were a long way past the horizon. After 17 moves in 13 years, they and their children, Loren and Kathleen, settled in Carson City where Glen went to work "in the office."
Nora started working in the state insurance division where, after studying and taking courses on her own, she became a state insurance analyst. Health and life insurance policies could not be sold in the state of Nevada unless she or her boss had approved them. Ever a reader of small print, Nora was tough and the insurance companies found that if they could pass the policies through Nevada, they could usually be sold anywhere.
Both the mining and England combined to be life-long interests. Anyone who has been in the car with her passing the geo-thermal plant above Paradise Valley was sure to hear, "See that steam coming out of the ground? Who would think of all that just under the surface?"
Nora yearned for travel. The family summer vacations were spent driving somewhere–anywhere–but often to Oregon to go camping. She and Glen decided to take the family to visit her father's remaining sisters in England in the late sixties. This trip whetted their appetite for more overseas travel. They eventually visited many countries in Europe, Egypt, Israel and multiple trips to England. The epic summer trip they took with six others driving to Alaska and back became the fodder for many stories. Nora continued to raise a family while becoming a community "rabble rouser" as well as a stalwart member of the Methodist Church in Carson City, where her voice could often be heard raised in song.
Driving Model A Fords was another passion Nora shared with Glen. The family joined with like-minded enthusiasts in the Sagebrush Model A Ford Club of Carson City and the Mountain Quail Model A Ford Club based in Loyalton, Calif. They toured with these groups throughout the West and Canada. Nora was preceded in death by Glen, her parents and her brothers, Albert and Frank, and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
Nora is survived by her son, Loren Chipman and his wife, Gayle, of Morro Bay, Calif.; daughter, Kathleen Chipman Wicker and her husband, Bob, of Minden, Nev.; and grandson, Thomas Wicker and his new wife, Danielle, of Broomfield, Colo. She is also survived by a niece, three nephews and numerous cousins who called her Aunt Nora.
Memorial services will be at 2 p.m., Saturday, July 23, at the First United Methodist Church of Carson City at Division and Musser Streets.