Andy Whipple, a former reporter and arts editor for The Bulletin and longtime resident of Oregon, died Oct. 20 in Hillsboro, where he had lived for several years.
Whipple, 68, had fought Parkinson’s disease since his diagnosis in 1991, but “lost his fierce struggle” with the degenerative neurological condition, according to his obituary.
A skilled writer and lover of the arts, Whipple left a legacy of several books, many memorable stories told in The Bulletin and lasting friendships.
“(Ours was) one of my most beloved friendships,” said Bend author Ellen Waterston, who knew Whipple since the early 1990s.
“I think he understood what that was — what friendship looked like. Friendship is something to be cultivated, and he understood that.”
Whipple, the eldest of five children, was born in Boston and lived in Ann Arbor, Mich. After graduating from Oberlin College in Ohio, he settled in Eugene in 1971 before moving to the Bay Area in the mid-1980s with his then-wife, Stephanie Gutierrez, where he pursued photography and journalism and became the editor of the Berkeley Voice.
After a stint as the director of the Aegean School of Fine Arts, on the Greek island of Paros Whipple published with longtime collaborator Rob Anderson “The English Pub,” photos and lore about English pub signs.
Whipple came to Bend in 1990 to take a job with The Bulletin, and his then-partner Rose Loeff and her sons, Berend and Remko Diderich, followed. He covered the local arts community for years. He left The Bulletin in 2001.
“I had the privilege of being Andy’s editor at The Bulletin for several years and was always impressed by the way he connected with people of all kinds,” said Denise Costa, The Bulletin’s deputy editor of editorials. “He had an eye for the unusual and the human in every situation and could see the potential in what others would see as mundane — such as the inner workings of a piano. He was kind, generous, thoughtful and a fine writer.”
Despite his Parkinson’s, Whipple maintained independence and mobility for years. In 2002, he underwent deep brain stimulation surgery to treat the tremors caused by the disease. He moved to Portland in 2006 and completed the book “Riverwater: A Natural and Social History of Oregon’s McKenzie River” with designer Carl Oslundshortly after. The book was a deeply personal project for Whipple.
“This is a Renaissance man,” said Waterston, recalling Whipple’s many interests and skills, from making his own fly-fishing rods to playing the 12-string guitar to his immersive knowledge of natural history. “He was a great journalist and writer and photojournalist.”
Waterston also described Whipple as someone who could see the natural beauty hiding in utilitarian objects, such as a letter opener he made for her, carved from wood in a whimsical, organic shape. He also had humor and wit; he would address letters to friends based on his own interpretation of the letters on their license plates, she said.
Waterston last saw Whipple in the spring at a memory care facility where he had been living for the past several years, she said.
Whipple’s siblings — Dana Whipple of Eugene, Elizabeth Whipple of Richmond, Calif., Margaret Whipple of Prince George, Va., and Matt Whipple of Chehalis, Wash., — plan a gathering with Andy’s friends in the spring.