John Tripp is Why I Am Known as The Big Dog and I Miss Him Dearly
It was May 16, 2009, five years ago today, when I lost my best friend and hundreds of others did likewise with the passing of John Tripp. A year ago, I started to write about John, but I kept deleting what I was writing. I finally decided that what I wrote last year still fits today. I wrote it from my heart a year ago and the words still say everything I want to say today so here it is.
He was bigger than life. He was a husband, a father, a grandfather, intelligent, humorous, predictable at times and unpredictable at other times, outspoken to say the least, a mentor to many, a wonderful Exchange Club member, a 1972 graduate and a huge supporter of Culver-Stockton College, a life-long New York Yankee fan and he was my best friend. A heart attack silenced John Tripp five years ago today at the early age of 58.
I remember the call I got around 9 on that May morning in 2009. It was a Saturday morning and I remember taking the call but very little after that. I was heading for Kansas City to visit my ailing mother when the news came that John Tripp had passed away. I remember that “empty” feeling I felt in my gut like someone had just ripped out my heart. I have no recollection of driving to Kansas City that day. I do remember talking to John’s friends who called me during the drive to Kansas City in disbelief themselves.
John and I were different people in many ways but we were so alike in others. We both came to the Midwest from New York State and were both die-hard Yankee fans. We both had a love for radio and I guess when it came right down to it, it was our love for people.
John came to the Midwest to go to Culver Stockton, a learning institution that he loved so much he renamed it “Harvard on the Hill.” It was a name that many still refer to Culve Stockton as. He was good at renaming people, including me. When we worked together at WTAD, I was the Station Manager and he was the Sales Manager. John was not particularly happy with the station’s General Manager at the time so he found a way to get his “shots” in by renaming me “The Big Dog” which infuriated the GM to say the least. It is a nickname that has stuck and many contact me by that name today which of course I still use on Y101.
John was so many things to so many people especially the terminally ill. It was John Tripp who established the Hospice Program at Blessing Hospital. It’s a program that thousands utilized to comfort the terminally ill and their families. It is a program still in use to comfort people.
In the Exchange Club, it was always John who was asked to perform the eulogies for club members as well as others and he did it so eloquently. When he died the Exchange Club asked me to do the eulogy for John. I didn’t know if I could get through it, but I managed to knowing full well if I broke down John would be up there looking down saying, ”Get your act together, big boy.”
I could write a thousand stories about John, but suffice to say John was all things to all people. But to me, he was my best friend. I still have his phone number in my contacts of my cell phone.\ I cannot delete it and I won’t. Time may continue on without him but the following words will never leave me. “Miss ya buddy!”