Maybe you knew him as “Singing Jim” or from his days as a Stock Car announcer in Sullivan in the 60’s and 70’s, but one thing is for sure if you ever met James Allan Lipskie you probably have memories of your time spent with him. Whether it was his love of music and performing or a simple joke (or five) Jim touched many lives throughout his life.
James Allan was born May 22, 1946 in Owen Sound to Harvey Carl and Dorothy Luella (Barfoot) Lipskie. He was the third oldest of six children, joining older brothers Dennis (1942), Doug (1945), with younger sisters Gloria, Donna and Sharon following in 1948, 1954 and 1961 respectively. The Lipskie family lived and farmed on Sideroad 4, R.R. #2 Chatsworth. The children attended S.S. #2 Sullivan. Jim spent two years attending Owen Sound Community Vocational Institute and one year at West Hill. His favourite subjects were Math, English, and Spelling.
Jim took his first job at the Cross Country Store in Owen Sound. He then went on to Office Equipment as a salesperson. Over the coming years, he worked a variety of jobs which included working for the Township of Sullivan and in construction. In 1964, Jim moved to the Kitchener Waterloo area where he worked as a receiver at the Sweater Company.
Jim was fortunate to find love twice in his life, yet unfortunate enough to also experience the dissolution of his two marriages. Jim first married Mary Elizabeth Gracie on November 29, 1969, separating four years later. On November 12, 1983 he married Elise May Wilfgang and sadly divorced in 2016, after having been separated for twenty-seven years.
In 1967, Jim returned to Grey County, working for Seegmiller Construction as a bookkeeper. A few years later, in 1971 Jim moved to Stratford for a short period of time before building his first home in 1972. Over the next 32 years, Jim designed and built 23 homes, with him spending the longest time living 15 years, at his current home.
Over the years Jim also worked at Grey Bruce Lighting, Starr Glass, sold water softener salt, enjoyed landscaping and operated his own antique business. In fact, Jim started his antique business in 1978. In 1992 he opened an antique store in Dornoch and remained there until 2005. Not only did Jim know his business, he had a story to accompany every antique he owned. His memory was amazing, almost unhuman, as he could remember dates, numbers, and facts in, but an instant. You might even say he had a photographic memory, for if he seen it, he could most certainly remember it.
In 1989 Jim bought a property on the Bruce Peninsula, whereby he renovated the house and resold it in 1992. In the past 15 years, he enjoyed building friendships with his Amish neighbours, often acting as a driver for them and their families.
As if Jim wasn’t talented enough, he was also a great singer and piano player. As previously mentioned he was known as “Singing Jim” and performed primarily Country and Country Gospel. He knew over 700 songs and would taunt anyone to guess a song he didn’t know, offering to buy the individual a drink if he didn’t know the tune. Jim said he never had to buy anyone a drink, ever! Jim saw his gift as a God-given gift! He also sang at several weddings and funerals over the years. Jim was a member of the Niteliters band and performed in a variety of venues throughout Canada and the U.S. He had the honour of sharing a stage with Tommy Overstreet (1968) and even sang on stage in Nashville with John Wright and Kitty Wells (1983). Following this performance, he was invited back to Kitty’s home for dinner with her family. What an honour! Jim’s favourite artists were Allan Jackson and Conway Twitty. His favourite song was “Your Love Amazes Me” by John Berry.
Jim also enjoyed carpentry work and working outside landscaping or gardening. He was most proud of the eight-piece, solid black walnut bedroom suite he created. In terms of collecting, Jim not only gathered antiques around himself, but he also collected anything elephant, an animal he was fascinated with his entire life. Jim also loved his dogs, having loved and cared for a German Shepherd, Great Pyrenees, and Golden Retriever during different periods of his life. When it came to food he loved his blueberry pie. Time in front of the TV usually meant watching a game show like Family Feud or Wheel of Fortune, with a little All in the Family and Red Skeleton sprinkled in. Although not much of a reader Jim loved to journal and wrote daily in his diary.
In the late 60’s early 70’s Jim was introduced to stock car racing. No, he did not drive but instead specialized in announcing the races. His gift of gab, music and the odd joke allowed him to be the perfect entertainer between races. He started out at Jackpot Speedway on J.D. Carpenter’s farm on the 4th of Sullivan. A few years later he began announcing at Model T Speedway near McCullough Lake for Roy Girdler. In his day, Jim was renowned as the best-known stock car announcer in our area.
Jim did a fair bit of travelling in his day, going to Nashville nine times, the East Coast nine times, as well as all over the world. He also took on the task of organizing and hosting a trip for 52 locals to Nashville in 1972. Jim had a great sense of humour and was quite the jokester. He knew 1,000’s of jokes and could often garner a smile from anyone. Some were clean, others were not, but he usually had the perfect joke for the situation. This humour was something that remained with Jim until the day he died. He absolutely loved bringing smiles and enjoyment to those around him.
Sadly, in recent months, Jim was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In true Jim fashion, he took this news in stride, got his affairs in order and was at peace with the life he led. He passed away on his own terms, surrounded by family, at Hanover & District Hospital on Saturday, October 19, 2019 in his 74th year.
Loving brother of Gloria (Russ) Graham of Hanover, Donna (Rene) Chartrand of Wallaceburg and Sharon (Roger) Martin of Williamsford. Jim will be missed by his nieces, nephews, neighbours and close friends. He was predeceased by his brothers Dennis (1960), Doug (2007) and his parents Harvey and Dorothy (Barfoot) Lipskie.
In respecting Jim’s wishes, private services will be held.
Memorial donations to Chapman House would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.
Jim’s final words of advice… “don’t be too busy trying to make a living to have a life.”Send to friend