Willis Tipton
Willis Tipton
Willis Tipton

Obituary of Willis M. Tipton


Dr. Willis Tipton, 92, went to be with Our Lord on January 29, 2024. He passed away peacefully at his home in Ontario surrounded by his devoted family and dear friends.

Willis was born to Willie Northway Tipton and Ethel Irene McWilliams in Crystal, Idaho between Payette and Weiser, on April 28, 1931. They lived in a tarpaper dwelling that his father built himself. Fighting the ravages of the Great Depression, his father jumped a freight train to find work via the hobo jungle of Portland, Oregon armed only with a sack of cornbread and onion sandwiches. He found work in Klamath Falls where little Willis and his mother joined him. Willis attended three different grade schools there, and another six in various towns of the Pacific Northwest, including Coquille, Gold Beach, and Norway, Oregon where his brother Melvin was born in 1937. In 1941, his father took welder’s training and in 1942 got a job building Victory Ships at Kaiser Shipyards in Vancouver, Washington. Willis attended five different schools in the Portland-Vancouver area during that period. In 1944, the family moved on to Grants Pass where his father worked in the timber industry and Willis attended school from seventh grade on. He graduated from Grants Pass High School in 1949.

After high school, Willis took a job at a sawmill where an injury would prove to be a fortuitous event and pivotal moment in his life; for it was his visit to the X-ray department that set him on a new career path and led him to his bride. In 1950, he began X-ray technician training at Mercy Hospital in Nampa, Idaho under the supervision of head technician and Basque beauty Alice Gabica. He completed training in June 1951. That October, Willis joined the United States Air Force during the Korean War. On February 6, 1952, while on leave, Willis and Alice were married at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Nampa, Idaho. He was stationed at Amarillo air force base, and subsequently at Anderson air force base in Guam where he served as Staff Sergeant and Radiology Specialist.  In 1955 Willis enrolled at the College of Idaho from which he graduated in 1959 with a degree in zoology. He began medical school at St. Louis University in 1959 and graduated in 1963, the year of the birth of their first child, Lisa, at the Saint Louis University Hospital, Fermin Desloge. In June of 1963, the trio moved to Salt Lake City, Utah where Willis would serve his internship and complete his radiology residency.  Willis graduated from medical school in 1967, the year their second child, Rhett, was born.

After living briefly in Nampa, the family took up residence in Ontario where Willis began work at Holy Rosary Hospital as its first full-time radiologist in July of that year. He remained in that position until his retirement in 1996. He worked six days a week solo in that position until he took an associate, Dr. Kirk Hayes in 1982. For many years he worked in Weiser one day a week and Nyssa one afternoon a week reading and interpreting X-rays, he also sometimes worked in Council. Over his nearly three decades at Holy Rosary he witnessed and mastered many innovations in imaging technology, helped countless patients and served as friend and mentor to many staff members who expressed their thanks for his patience and guidance throughout the years. He was a good and fair person who eschewed hierarchies. The X-ray techs who worked with him regarded him as a “real” person who was never difficult or “above” the rest of the team.

Willis was devoted to his family that was his pride and joy. He was a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather and was actively invested in his children’s and grandchildren’s futures devising educational games and art projects to work on together. He was a life-long learner and transmitted that kind of curiosity to his children. He was an accomplished photographer and left a legacy of thousands of photographs, slides, home movies and videos chronicling over seventy years of special events and everyday activities. He enjoyed playing guitar and singing with his children and grandchildren and at Tipton family reunions. Willis loved a good joke and telling his own homemade ones. He also enjoyed gardening, lawn care, and working in his shop, making frames for many of his photographs among other things. He was a member of Blessed Sacrament Catholic church.

He is survived by Alice, his loving wife of 72 years, his daughter Dr. Lisa (Enrike) Corcostegui; his son Dr. Rhett (Maria Barinaga) Tipton and their children Angela (Ethan) Sabala, Elena (Josiah) Radcliffe, Garrett and his fiancée Alisha Rogers, and Daniella Tipton; brother Melvin Dean Tipton of Grants Pass; nephew Tobin Tipton; niece Lori  (Gregory) Heck; nieces Inez (Elias) Jaca, Marilyn Jacobson, and Margene (Richard) Eiguren; numerous great nephews and nieces; and cousin Jerry (Jan) Condit.

He is preceded in death by his parents, aunts and uncles, many cousins and brothers and sisters-in-law Charlotte (Frank) Gibson, Richard (Benita) Gabica, Louise (Don) Storey, niece Dianne Richards, and nephew Lyle Jacobson, and great-nephew Jay Hall.

Willis was a true survivor. He battled four different serious cancers and beat them all. His tenacity was admirable and fueled by his devotion and love for his family. He will be missed more than words can express.

His family would like to thank Heart and Home Hospice for their compassionate care and especially Paula, Trina, Amanda, Janela, Anita and Chaplain Page; long-time aide Jessica, and Doctors Mark Christenson and Paul Gering. A special thank you to Dr. Kirk Hayes, Father Joseph Thomas and to Father Rob Irwin.

A Rosary at 10:30am will precede the funeral Mass which will be celebrated on Friday, February 9th at 11:00am at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Ontario with a lunch to follow at the Kirkpatrick Center. Burial will follow Sturday at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Nampa.

Memorials may be made in Willis’ name to Saint Jude Children’s Hospital (https://www.stjude.org/). Condolences to the family may be made at www.lienkaemper-thomason.com.


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