Last year, I posted a photograph of a rather strange metal sign (above) that I had discovered dangling by chains from the underside of the Frisco Bridge. Who was S.L. Lipe, I wondered, and why was he memorialized in this unusual fashion?
Well, a reader named Phoebe researched back issues of a publication called "All Aboard," which is the company newsletter for the Springfield Division of the BNSF (Burlington Northern & Santa Fe) Railroad, and in the July 2004 issue she actually turned up an obituary for Scotty L. Lipe. Here's what it says:
Team Mourns Loss of Former Employee
Structures team members remember Scotty Lipe for his railroad knowledge and kind demeanor. "He had a great personality and got along with everyone," said Hal Choate, bridge foreman, who worked with Lipe for 15-plus years.
Lipe died June 16 in Springfield. He was 60.
Lipe was born in Springfield and worked for the railroad in the Structures Department The last project he worked on was the Mississippi River Bridge project in Memphis during 2003. He recently retired as a bridge inspector.
Lipe knew every aspect of his job and could do anything, Choate said. "Scotty was excellent at running the cutting torch," he said.
Lipe, a U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, worked 34 years for the railroad. He is survived by his wife, Betty, and 11 children. He was preceded in death by his father. Lipe's funera was June 21st in Springfield and attended by many of his railroad friends.
So that explains the unique memorial, no doubt installed by his railroad friends. The old Frisco Bridge was probably his last project. Many thanks, Phoebe, for solving this mystery.