As a lad born and raised in Toppenish, that berg being less than 10 miles from the mystery location for our August riddle, Robert Shipman knew the riddle answer in an instant. His correct response submitted; the time arranged for a telephone interview secured; it didn’t work out as either of us planned. When we attempted to connect a few days later, a weather system was bringing rain to the parched landscape near my Northeast Washington home as well as his Northwest location. I got in the car chasing a better cell signal for about 20 minutes before we finally got an affirmative answer to the less-than age-old question, “Can you hear me now?”
A patient gentleman, Robert Shipman.
But let’s back up… until the eighth grade the Toppenish school system served Robert Shipman well. Afterward he attended a private Catholic school in nearby Yakima, Washington. Beyond junior college he served four years in the U.S. Navy. His diverse life experience allowed him to be a “Jack of all trades” regarding employment and the role from which he retired after 30 years was with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (a.k.a. Keyport) near his home in Port Orchard. He worked there with the woman who’d become his wife.
He and Janis Shipman married 35 years ago, and in 2005 Janis retired from Keyport where she’d served as division secretary for the technical director. At age 60, Robert, seeing how much fun she was having, decided in 2007 to retire from his supervisory role in the machine shop at Keystone. 2007 was also the year they bought an H-D Ultra Classic and took a little jaunt around the U.S. A gift to each other, they spent three months touring 21 states. It was apparent by his comments that it was the trip of a lifetime.
Upon homecoming Robert took odd jobs but realized at one point, “Enough is enough.” So now Robert and Janis do as they please. From previous marriages Robert has a son in Bothell, Washington, (who has a son) and a daughter in Selah. Janis has twins, a boy in Maple Valley and a daughter just five blocks away.
While there are no pets at home, Jan’s nearby daughter (who has a daughter) enjoys the companionship and responsibility of more than a dog. More a dog and a half. “It’s a Bernese Mountain Dog” that, according to Robert, “Janis watches and used to take on rides when she still had her Mustang convertible.”
Robert has twice been the director of the Silverdale Harley Owners Group out of Destination H-D in Silverdale. He praises Ed Wallace Jr., the owner for his support; likewise the dealership’s manager Joseph. “Those two have grown the dealership quite a lot, with record sales.” The current stint as director of the Harley Owners Group ends with the Fall election of new officers. “It’s an active chapter and a great group of people.” Robert seems ready to hand the reins to another (again), freeing up his calendar and giving someone else opportunity to leave their mark.
There are roads left to travel, and as Robert Frost said so eloquently; Miles to go before I sleep.
It was a pleasure Robert.