Today, November 26, 2018 loved ones gathered at Elliott-Hamil Funeral Home in Abilene, Texas to celebrate the life of Marshall Flippo, and what a celebration it was!
Lin and I arrived at the funeral home forty-five minutes early, and the reception area already overflowed with callers and dancer friends. We greeted dear friends from all over the country who had come to honor a true legend. We were ushered into the chapel early. The majority of the people present were professional callers from all over the United State–the cream of the crop for sure. We continued greeting each other with hugs and subdued smiles.
I looked for Mary Sheehan Johnson, a dear friend of Flip’s who took him to Asilomar in April for his last visit. Asilomar was his favorite festival in his career with its beautiful beach side setting and the organization of Bob and Becky Osgood. We found each other and felt like we were old friends–our common denominator–Flippo.
Kayla Jones began the service with beautiful soft music. Reverent David Hargrove officially opened the service with a warm greeting, Flippo’s obituary and a prayer.
Then Jon, Deborah, Vernon and Kayla Jones sang a beloved hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross.” With the majority of attendees being callers and singers, many joined in the singing. What a beautiful start!
Gary Shoemake gave the first eulogy with heartfelt stories. His longtime friendship with Flippo shined through his words and tears. We laughed and cried in response to his stories. I cried with my dear friend and his raw emotion. Afterwards, we recited the familiar Twenty-Third Psalm.
Wade Driver, Mike Seastrom, and Gary Shoemake sang, “Amazing Grace,” another beautiful hymn that many in the audience sang. What a delight to have of these callers sing!
Melton Luttrell, Flippo’s long-time best friend, did a second eulogy with stories of Flippo’s early years. Melton’s deep love for Flippo grabbed my heart–they were best friends for decades. Then Reverend Hargrove shared several Scripture verses and a message of hope, personalized with Flippo stories–many that highlighted the precious father-son relationship that Flippo had with his dear son, John. He ended this part with us saying The Lord’s Prayer.
Ken Bower, Tony Oxendine, and Melton Luttrell sang the last song of the service, “Just A Closer Walk with Thee,” another song that made me cry. I loved hearing all of Flip’s dear friends give tribute to him through music and song.
Stan Jeffus shared a beautiful video presentation honoring “Precious Memories” of Flippo that had us laughing one minute and crying the next. Stan had Flippo’s songs playing in the background with photos of Flippo with so many friends through the years. The highlight were videos of many of the skits that Flippo was famous for: The Boxer and “I Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore.” Again we laughed and cried.
Reverend Hargrove ended the service with the Benediction, then we drove to the Wagon Wheel Hall, a square dance hall that Flippo and Neeca helped build many years ago. The Abilene Square/Round Dancers provided a delicious dinner.
Then friends spent a couple hours telling Flippo stories–full of love and admiration for Flip and lots of humor. Jon Jones started the sharing with playing Flippo’s first recorded song, “The Auctioneer” and a square tried to dance it but had trouble with the figures because we don’t do some of them in square dancing anymore. Jay Henderson played Jerry Story’s tribute to the three legends in square dancing that died in the last month: Frank Lane, Marshall Flippo and Lee Kopman. Lin and I danced that time and it was so precious.
The end came–people lingered. Stories continue out the door. It was hard to leave this festive day. To me, this was the best celebration of someone’s life I’ve ever been to–lots of stories, laughter and tears about a man we all loved dearly. John and Shelly and Neeca–you did a great job in honoring Flip. I will never forget this day!
Paul Cote recorded Flippo’s Memorial Service using Facebook Live. Go and watch this awesome service celebrating Flippo. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/paul.cote.104/videos/10215219947390187/
8 thoughts on “A Celebration of Marshall Flippo”
Thank you for sharing this tribute for a wonderful man.
You are welcome! I thought people would like to see how it went!
You know Flippo was so famous when I started square dancing, but he still loved time for the yellow rocks. I danced with him in Pine Bluff. Ark and that year he was tired, telling me not able to call much longer. I told him how proud I was to dance with the greats and to know them. He was among them, and all these presenters were the greatest that could ever be! Thanks Tony O and Mac Letson for showing me the fun side of square dancing, and Flippo was serious but knew that fun came with it! Single dancing here has become a lonely road, but these callers will always dance with us. From 1995 I ived for to square dance. Flippo showed me that life can be fun and okay to be different.
Thank you so much for sharing. I danced in Pine Bluff several years ago. I love our dancing & Flip for sure.
Hi Larada, I just came across your blog today – guess it got caught in a spam filter. Thanks for the “shout-out” in your terrific recounting of Flippo’s service. I, too, felt like I was meeting an old friend when I met you there – and our common denominator is Flippo. Wishing you all the best for a wonderful 2019! Can’t wait to read your book!
I’m glad you found it. I’m busy transcribing the last Interviews. Now, I can see his decline. I have a question for you that came out of an interview: what was the name of the game Becky Osgood played where people guessed what an object was? Let me know if you remember. Keep in touch.
Hi Larada – Sorry, I did not see your question above prior to today!! However, the name of the after-party game at Asilomar was “Liars Club”, based on the TV game show of the same name. The staff or dancers would find unusual items during the year and bring them to Becky. The staff would then come up with a description of what the item was – three of the staff would be lying, and one would have the actual description. The dancers would vote on who they thought was telling the truth – hilarity ensued! Best one ever: Bettye Procter describing a lump of green glass as “an unborn baby soda-pop bottle,” in her wonderful Texas accent. And the item indeed turned out to be glass that was manufactured into a 7-up bottle!
That’s the one that Flip tried to remember. Thank you so much!!