Cover photo for Wanda Shipp's Obituary

Wanda Shipp

Wanda Shipp

Wanda Alaire Shipp nee Van Alstine was born in Cut Bank, Montana on September 23 rd , 1924. She was the daughter of a Dutch father – William Alexander Van Alstine – and an Italian mother – Erselia Narducci, known as Lucille.
Wanda grew up on a farm 15 miles north of Cut Bank, Montana with her mom and dad, sister and three brothers. No electricity and no plumbing. She was the oldest child, so from an early age she had many chores – milking cows, tending chickens, gardening, and taking care of her sister and brothers as they came along.
Wanda’s early life was not all work. As they got older, she and her sister Betty began to sing together at socials and other gatherings of the locals. They were quite good and often requested to perform. Turns out her entire family was musically inclined.
Wanda attended F. Lake Country School, where she received a Special Achievement Award from the Dept. of Glacier County Schools upon graduation from the 8 th grade….she was very proud of that!  Then she attended high school in Cut Bank, so the story was always 15 miles through the snow and back – and uphill both ways. She graduated in 1942 and was asked to sing a solo – “O Danny Boy” - at the graduation ceremony.  After high school she moved to Great Falls with her sister and got a job on the Army Air Base there. Wanda was a beautiful young woman, with perfectly coiffed hair, and in 1944, she caught the eye of Richard (Dick) Shipp when he was assigned there in the last years of WWII. He was handsome and charming, plus he also loved music and singing. They fell in love and were married in January of 1946.
Dick was from Beeville, Texas and he and Wanda moved there after the honeymoon. They lived and worked there about a year or so. During that time Wanda grew more and more homesick, so they eventually moved back to Cut Bank. Wanda was much happier there with her family close by.
Over the next 5 years Wanda and Dick had two sons – Alan and Steve. One of Wanda’s brothers (Bill), and her sister Betty, both lived in Cut Bank and were married with children. So there were many family gatherings and cousins to play with, as well as having Wanda’s Mom and Dad to proudly oversee activities of their children and grandchildren.
The next chapter began on a rainy November in 1952, when Wanda and her family packed up and moved to White Salmon, Washington where husband Dick had gotten a job as the Administrator for the newly built Skyline Hospital. In 1955, they added a baby daughter to the family – Betty Carol – and over a 20-year period Wanda and her family were a close knit unit with Father Knows Best, Donna Reed, and Beaver Cleaver as models for growing up in the 1950’s. Wanda and Dick were involved with all things musical, beginning with the choir in the Methodist Church, then an annual performance of Handel’s Messiah at Christmas time. Wanda always had a solo or two and husband Dick was the director. Eventually all of Wanda’s children joined in the singing with at least one performance of the Messiah where the whole family was involved. Good times.
As her children grew more independent, Wanda took some part time work. Over the years she worked at Diamond Fruit, as a teller at the old National Bank of Commerce, and taking money for lunches at the school cafeteria. She saved her money for family vacations to Cut Bank, to visit family; for camping trips all over the Northwest, for fishing and water skiing. Family was very important to her, so they did a lot of things together.
Outside the family, Wanda had other interests as well: she was a member of PEO, she and Dick belonged to Dance Club, and when her brother Bob Van Alstine moved to White Salmon, they sang together and performed all over as the Robert Van Trio, which then grew to be the Robert Van Singers as she got her children, their friends and others involved in the music.
Wanda and Dick and daughter Betty Carol moved from White Salmon to Kennewick, Washington in 1972. She worked at a bank for most of the 10 years they lived there. During that time she enjoyed as always, singing in a choir at church. She loved it when her boys would visit, and eventually was able to dote on some grandchildren. Oh how they loved going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.
When Dick retired in 1982, they moved to Clear Lake near Spokane, WA. They lived on the lake in the summer and went south to Arizona for the winter. Lots of fishing and playing tennis together, and some water skiing when the kids and grandkids would visit. Eventually, in 1991, they tired of the annual trek back and forth, and set up permanent residence in Boise, Idaho, where number two son, Steve was living. Wanda always liked to have some family close by, and in 1999 was rewarded with another grandchild – Alex.
Wanda lost Dick in 2006, and never quite forgave him for leaving her behind – they had a pact you see, they were both supposed to go at the same time. But she kept talking to him through the years after, until passing away quietly in her sleep on March 11, 2016. She has been looking forward to seeing Dick again “Beyond the Blue Horizon”, which was one of their favorite songs and where we will always picture them both.
Wanda always had a smile on her face and was loved by all who knew her. We will all be missing her.
Wanda was preceded in death by her husband Richard B. Shipp, her parents Bill and Lucille Van Alstine, Sister Betty Dean, and Brother Bert Van Alstine.

Wanda is survived by sons Alan Shipp, Husum, WA; and Steve Shipp, Boise, ID; daughter Betty Carol Shipp Symank, Westminster, CA; Brothers Bill Van Alstine, Cut Bank, MT; and Bob Van Alstine, White Salmon, WA; Grandchildren, Travis Shipp and Cody Shipp and Alex Shipp; and 1 Great Granddaughter Cyra Q. Stewart.
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