HOUGHTON - Rev. Konstantin "Kon" Wipp, 99, the eldest United Methodist minister of the Detroit conference, died at the Omega House in Houghton Aug. 3, 2012.
He was born on the island of Saaremaa, Estonia, Nov. 15, 1912, a son of the late Martin and Sophia (Lember) Wipp, and lived there for the first four 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 6, he started school, going six days a week but having four 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 age 17, he became interested in religion. His family was Russian Orthodox, but he joined the Methodist church at 18 years old.
He had to serve one 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 four months at the president's home.
Kon 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 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 Gotesburg 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 of TB and his daughter was raised by his 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 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 190-mile circuit.
There he met his future wife, Ethel (Newberg) Hill and they were marred Aug. 2, 1953, at the Finnish Methodist Church in Ishpeming. His step-children, Sandra and Dan, also became a 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 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; seven grandchildren, Marilisa (Scott) Moore of Chappequa, N.Y., 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 in 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 a.m. until time of services.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be directed to Camp Michigamme or the charity of the donor's choice.
The O'Neill-Dennis Funeral Home in Hancock and Bowerman Funeral Home in Munising are assisting with the arrangements.