Livestream link to John's funeral service, https://youtube.com/live/CAeeHOgpHqY
John Daniel Lippolis passed away on August 26, 2023 in Rochester, MN, surrounded by his loving and devoted family.
Born in Boise, Idaho on February 29, 1964 to Pat and Daniel Lippolis, John spent much of his childhood and adolescence in Milwaukie, Oregon. The oldest of two kids, John enjoyed camping and hiking from a young age. Later John attended Rex Putnam High School, graduating in 1982. While in high school, John discovered two, of many, life-long loves: music and science. He actively participated in his high school choir and enjoyed singing, a skill he carried into adulthood. In addition to choir, he completed a health sciences program that deepened his desire to know the "why" of the surrounding world. This latter experience led to further study and an eventual career in the sciences.
After high school graduation John attended Brigham Young University (Provo, UT) to obtain a degree in microbiology. While at BYU, John found another life-long love, his eventual wife, Lea Frances Tucker. The two married in 1988, moving that same year to Hershey, PA, where John pursued a PhD in immunology at Penn State College of Medicine, eventually graduating in 1994. While in graduate school, John eschewed flashcard learning, foregoing memorization in favor of deep understanding instead. He was a consummate scholar.
His scholastic achievements continued with a postdoc at the University of Virginia (1994-1999) and as managing director of the NIAID Tetramer Core Facility in Atlanta, Georgia (1999-2002). He and Lea finally settled in Ames, IA where John worked with the United States Department of Agriculture as a prominent scientist in the field of ruminant disease and immunology. Though he had never worked with animals before, John thrived in his new post and genuinely cared about his cows.
In September of 2021, John was diagnosed with cancer, the illness that eventually took his life. For John, cancer was a transformative experience, bringing a greater closeness to his family and a spiritual renewal. A life-long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, John relied on Christ's strength and grace to uphold him.
If the mark of a great man is how he's viewed by his family and friends, John departed this life excelling. Those that loved him most valued his humor and wit, his desire for knowledge, and his supportive nature. He is remembered for his love of a good book (even Tolkien's esoteric The Silmarillion) or a classic John Wayne movie, his Italian cooking and smoked meats, his feigned indifference to the family cats, his recent hobbies of woodworking and photography, and the service he provided his church and broader community.
But above all this, John was a deeply devoted, protective husband and father to Lea and their four children (Nora, Julia, Aria, and Evan). His favorite moments were spending time with his beloved family, whether it was hiking in Glacier National Park or enjoying the understated closeness of quietly reading side by side. Though he often showed love in dad jokes and goofiness, he also enjoyed surprises and the just-right gift. Once, after adamantly opposing a cat Lea wanted, he smuggled a gift-wrapped box (complete with air holes, food, water, and, yes, a cat) on the long drive from their house to Lea's family, just so she could open it Christmas morning.
He was a man of integrity. John valued doing right by his family and worked diligently to become someone they could sincerely love and admire. Even in passing, his greatest concern was how his family would fare, not what would happen to him.
John is survived, mourned, missed, remembered, and loved by his wife, Lea, and their four children; his mother, Pat Lippolis; his sister Stacie Smith, and countless friends and colleagues.
I have many fond memories of John, but two in particular that taught me profound lessons. Both occurred when he was serving as the Bishop and I was a youth in the ward:
The first: Bishop Lippolis called me into his office one day without being too specific about the reason. We made small talk for a minute and then he got this cryptic look on his face and said something to the effect of "I know that as a youth, it probably seems like people don't always take you as seriously as you'd like them to. Maybe it seems like people don't always listen, so you don't always feel like your words have power. I just want to let you know that what you say to people and how you say it has more impact than you think. So wield that power carefully when it comes to people's feelings." Even though he didn't say it outright, it was clear to both of us that my teenage attitude had pushed my poor youth leaders too far and they were likely exhausted and unsure what to do with me. While he had every right to give me a stern lecture, John's graceful wisdom and gentle kindness got the message across crystal clear that day; I've never forgotten it.
The second: Eileen Cheney had just passed away from cancer. Coincidentally, I was scheduled to sing a musical number, "Consider the Lilies" in church the next day. When I reached the lines "Consider the sweet, tender children who must suffer on this Earth. The pains of all of them He carried from the day of His birth," I thought of Eileen, and I broke down and couldn't finish the song. I hoped it would pass without comment. After the meeting, Bishop Lippolis pulled me into his office again and said something like "I know you probably would have liked to give more technically perfect performance of that song, but I want you to know that what you did was just as beautiful and powerful a testimony as any rendition could have been." John taught me that an imperfect offering, made in love for God and others, is a precious, beautiful thing.
We will all miss John so much and we are lucky to carry with us everything he taught us. We love you, Lippolises.
My first memory of Bishop Lippolis was as a young, young man visiting the Ames Ward and seeing a quirky-looking guy in a brilliant bow tie step up to the pulpit and give a talk. I don’t remember the topic but I do remember the feeling: light, well-thought out, and with copious laughter. As my bishop during a time when I didn’t know who I was, he provided life-long wisdom, stern reminders of the standards of the Church he served, and unconditional love which was exuded each time we spoke. There are a great many men in the world, but not many as great as Bishop Lippolis. I cannot express my gratitude for the glimpses of him I was able to get, the role model he was, and the legacy he has left. We are all poorer for having lost the value he added to each life he touched. I will miss you Bishop, thank you for your life and example.
Leah our dear friend,
Bob and I so enjoyed viewing the wonderful service for John today. Of all the beautiful tributes given of him Bob and I can also say “John saw us”. As our friend and LDS Bishop we felt his sincere presence in our lives. He made a difference and our hearts are broken for the loss and lonely times you and your sweet children will certainly endure. We love you and John; you will be in our prayers that your hearts might be lifted by family and friends and certainly our Father in Heaven in the coming days.
Love, Bob and Cheryl Howard
I remember my times in Ames fondly, in no small part to John and the Lippolis family. He was bishop of that ward at the time we lived there and served our family in meaningful and important ways. My ex husband loved John. I hope they’re getting a chance to reconnect and talk genetics in the afterlife. Much love to Lea, Sully, Julia, Evan, and Aria.
John was in my research unit at the NADC. Sitting in his office sharing a few laughs always brightened my day. He was a very bright, very humble man. I am grateful that I had the chance to know him. Thanks to his family for sharing him with us. May God give his healing Grace to his family in their grief. He was a good man and will be missed.
Though John was only 14 (leap-year birthdays), he made an impact on all of those around him. My favorite memories with John occurred serving with him in church assignments. Whether he was working with the youth and celebrating his "twelfth birthday", or his 'occasional' disruptive comments made during leadership meetings; heaven help the leaders when he and Steve, or he and Tyler would start commenting in tandem. His humor and love of family earned him the nickname "Big Evan" in our house. We love and will miss him until we meet again. Condolences to all the Lippoli. From the Smiths.
Our deepest condolences to Lea, Nora, Julia, Aria, Evan, and all of John's family. John and I worked collaboratively on several proteomics-based projects at the NADC; his insightful suggestions as well as his sense of humor will be greatly missed. My family and I pray that he rests in peace and that his family has the strength to bear this untimely loss.
-Indira Kudva with Manohar John and Julie-Michelle Manohar.
Words cannot express the sorrow and joy I feel when I think about John. He was always looking for ways to serve his church, his family and his heavenly father. When it came to humor, John had a keen sense of timing...when it came to concern, he never put himself first and always looked for ways to help, and when it came to his family, he loved them and provided them with a fierce sense of responsibility. I take comfort in knowing that he is at peace and preparing a way for us in heaven.
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Ames, IA, United States 50010
Ames, Iowa 50010