The Original Farmers Market lost another member of its family and the matriarch of Kip’s Toyland last week when Gertrude “Gerta” Kipper passed away. She was 97 and in good health, her family said – she died six weeks after her husband due to a “broken heart.”
Gertrude Kipper was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1919. Her family moved to Los Angeles in 1929 where she graduated from Los Angeles High School and met her soul mate, Irvin “Kip” Kipper, whom she was married to for 77 years.
The two married as teenagers on Jan. 1, 1939, before Kip served in World War II as a pilot. Kip’s B-17 bomber plane was named “Purdy Gertie” after his wife.
“The only time they were apart was when he was in the war,” said Lily Kipper, Gertrude’s granddaughter.
The couple exchanged letters and telegrams during the war, which Gertrude saved until her death, including one she received informing her that Kip was captured and taken as a prisoner of war.
According to the Kippers, after he saw the darker side of humanity, Kip decided he would find a way to bring joy to people’s lives. When he returned to Los Angeles, Kip and Gertrude opened Kip’s Toyland – Los Angeles’ oldest toy store – almost 71 years ago.
“They were partners in crime for everything,” Lily said. “Their marriage was just as special as the toy store. You never saw one of them without the other. They were known for having the most beautiful marriage ever.”
Lily said Gertrude was incredibly athletic and musically talented. She played and taught tennis and piano lessons, and played other sports as well, such as bowling with Kip.
“Anything she did, she was really good at,” Lily said, but added that the toy story meant the whole world to the Kippers. “She was at the store with [Kip] every day until the end. Their world was the toy store, the kids and each other.”
Gertrude continued to stick close to Kip’s side as his vision started to fade when he got older. Gerta was known to be “Kip’s eyes,” Lily said. The two continued to visit the store every week until Kip died in April at 99 years old.
“Gertrude and Kip had a fairytale love story, so I guess it only makes sense that she just couldn’t be here without him,” Lily said. “Gertrude made it six weeks to the day – almost to the minute – since Kip’s passing.
“Ultimately she died of a broken heart,” Lily added. ‘Every day since Kip passed away, she would say ‘this isn’t a life for me without my Irby, bring my Irby back.’ They’re together at last.”
Gertrude is survived by her two sons, Don and Robert.
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