US honours centenarian who has lived here for 71 years
On his 102 birthday last Thursday, retired US Army Captain Frederick W Clipper was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation by the US State Department.
Mr Clipper was awarded the certificate for his distinguished service to the US military.
He came to Bermuda in 1942 to with the United States Army, and has resided on the Island for 71 years.
While in Bermuda, he met and married his Bermudian wife, Rosemary, and raised a family of four.
In retirement, Mr Clipper did 34 years of volunteer service with the Bermuda Red Cross.
He repaired rental equipment, including wheelchairs and delivered hospital beds to those in need.
Mr Clipper had joined the Red Cross almost by accident.
“My son and his wife visited Bermuda from England with their daughter, who was just a couple months old, so they rented a crib for her while they were here,” he said.
The crib had a malfunctioned by the time he returned it.
“When I took the crib back, I told the girl who was in charge ‘you ought to fix this thing, it’s got a loose wheel on it or something’ and she said: ‘Well why don’t you come and fix it then?’.”
After returning from holiday, Mr Clipper received an unexpected call.
“I got a call from the woman in charge and she said ‘When are you coming to work?’ and I said ‘I can’t take this job, I’m not a Bermudian, I can’t get a permit’. She then said ‘You just have to be a Red Cross member and the Government will leave you alone’.”
Mr Clipper went on to explain his routine of volunteer work, which would often be more than the normal two hours a week.
“When things are returned, most of the time they would need minor repairs.
“A little part that would be loose would become looser each time it was rented out and eventually break.”
“I filled in every time someone was not there, and I can tell you, sometimes it was a full day,” he said.
As his eyesight worsened, Mr Clipper became skilled enough to repair wheelchairs without the use of his eyes.
“For years now I wasn’t able to see or hear properly. I couldn’t see the heads of the screws, so I used my fingers to feel the ends of the screws to put wheelchairs together.”
Mr Clipper would give full inspections to the wheelchairs returned to him, even when only minor repairs were necessary.
“We had about 25 wheelchairs and they were always ready for use,” he said.
The Bermuda Red Cross building named in his honour for years of his service. He cherished this moment and recalled his joy of volunteer work.
“I think it was the most marvellous volunteer job that anybody could have had,” he said. “I was retired and it became my main focus. I thoroughly enjoyed being there.”
Mr Clipper was awarded a Certificate of Honour from Queen Elizabeth II in 1990 for his service in the Bermuda Red Cross.
“Well I was totally surprised,” he said. “I didn’t know an American could get something by the Queen.”
Holding his new award from the US State Department, he said “I’ve had so many good things happen in my life.”
The Certificate of Appreciation by the US State Department stated: “You represent the best the United States has to offer, demonstrating that two cultures can work and live together in harmony and mutual respect. Your exemplary life brings honour to you and to the United States of America. ”