William Tippen

Texas Congress and Texas Senate, 1943

William Kenton (Bill) Tippen was born in Brownwood, Texas on September 6, 1922. At the age of 12, he moved with his family to Abilene. He graduated from Abilene High School in 1939 and received, in absentia, a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Hardin-Simmons University in 1943. His mother accepted his diploma for him as he was serving in World War II at the time of commencement ceremonies.

During World War II, Tippen served in the Counter Intelligence Corp with the Fifth Army in Italy and Austria. He was awarded a Bronze Star for meritorious service upon his discharge in 1945. In 1946, he married his college sweetheart, Elsie Murphree, a 1944 graduate of Hardin-Simmons University.

While attending law school, Tippen served two terms in the Texas Legislature and graduated from the University of Texas Law School in 1949. He was elected County Attorney of Taylor County, and after serving two terms, was appointed District Attorney of the 104th District. After serving a second term as District Attorney, he entered private practice as a founding partner of an Abilene law firm in 1956. He remained with the firm until his retirement in 1988. Tippen was a member of the State Bar of Texas and the Abilene Bar Association, having served as president of the Abilene Bar in 1968-69.

In 1972, he was elected to the Texas Senate to fill an unexpired term, then in 1973, was appointed by the governor to serve a six-year term as a member of the Texas Commission of Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education.

He was a long-time member of the Abilene Rotary Club and served on various Civic Committees. He was a member of the Administrative Committee of the Baptist General Convention of Texas from 1980 to 1986.

In 1959 Tippen was elected to the Board of Trustees of Hardin-Simmons University, serving for 20 years. He was Chairman of the Board for seven years. In 1977, he received the John J. Keeter Award, the highest honor given to Hardin-Simmons University graduates. He also served as president of the Alumni Association of Hardin-Simmons University. In 1982, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree by Hardin-Simmons.

Tippen raised cattle and horses in his spare time, calling himself a “Saturday Rancher.” He was named superintendent of the Abilene Horse Show for Crippled Children in 1966. He loved horses and dogs, having a dog by his side as often as possible since childhood.

Tippen was an active member of University Baptist Church in Abilene from 1942 until his death in 1994. He served as deacon from 1951 and as Chairman of the Deacon Board. He taught a men’s Sunday school class for many years.