Tiger Tracker: Wendy Kipple
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Wendy Kipple, previously Wendy Tendick, moved to Summit County with her family in 1970 and attended Summit High School up until her senior year. She moved to Grand Junction with her mother for her last year of high school and graduated in 1982.
After graduation, Kipple – who grew up owning and riding horses – went to Fort Lewis College in Durango for agricultural science, and then spent a few years training race horses. She met her husband, Lonny, in 1987 and moved back to Summit County in 1989.
Upon her return, Kipple worked in the Summit County Sheriff’s Office jail for four-and-a-half years.
“I found that I loved law enforcement and investigations as much as I liked training horses,” she said.
So Kipple attended the police academy in Glenwood Springs and graduated at the top of her class in 1993. She got a job with the Dillon Police Department, where she still works as a sergeant. She also went to work for the Summit County Coroner’s Office in 1990 and is still employed as the chief deputy coroner.
Kipple now lives in Fairplay, where she keeps three dogs and three horses. She rides a horse on mounted patrol in Dillon on Sundays during the summer. She and Lonny have a 19-year-old daughter Christi, who is currently earning her bachelor’s degree in graphic art design. Kipple is also a medicolegal death investigator with the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, a federal operation, and is deployed to assist in the recovery and identification of deceased people after disasters. She spent nine weeks in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.
Kipple says she has many fond memories of SHS. She participated on the swim team and the ski team, where she did both slalom and cross county skiing.
Kipple said she always had a hard time staying awake in biology class, which she had right after lunch. Mr. Toston was her teacher, and was infamous for throwing erasers at students who acted up or fell asleep.
“I had many erasers thrown at me!” she said.
Many years later, Kipple was the coroner on call when Mr. Toston died of a heart attack while playing tennis. She was the one to investigate and pronounce his death.
“I think he would have been proud of me that I finally did learn my biology well, and was putting that knowledge to good use now,” she said.
Kipple said she has seen Summit County change immensely over the years. When she moved here at the age of 6, the tunnel and I-70 were not fully built. There were no stoplights and few paved roads. Her father, who worked as a general contractor, built many of the existing structures. The family lived in the highest house on Ptarmigan Mountain. Kipple said she and her sister would ride their horses all over the place, and took part in the horse 4-H club. It was a very tight-knit community, she said. Many of her friendships from those days have remained the same.
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