On Dec. 13, 2011, Andrew Jackson Zipperer died peacefully in his own home at the age of 97. This dear man was a fixture in my life for as long as I can remember. He and his late wife shared the bounty of their garden and vineyard as well as their lives with me as my neighbors.
The son of the late Thomas Ellis and Willie Mae (Harn) Zipperer, he loved to tell everyone he was born at 702 (North) Laurel Street in the middle of the night and that his mother said, "He cried so loud he woke up all of Springfield." He was predeceased by all of his siblings: Thomas E. Zipperer, Jr., Claire Z. Kurick, Ralph F. Zipperer and Quinelle Mae Zipperer.
As a lad, he was employed by his church, Holy Trinity Lutheran, earning 50 cents a month to open the doors and windows in summer, bring firewood indoors and "fire up" the pot bellied wood heater in winter, ring the church bell and pump the organ. Services were not held every Sunday, but Sunday school was, so he earned one dollar a month for his same weekly services for the Sunday school. He became a confirmed member of the church at age 9. His father, a Newberry College graduate and schoolteacher, had taught him the Catechism.
Jackson lived in Springfield until age 14 when his family moved to Savannah. His family joined St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, where he met and married his wife of 72 years, Theresa Kleinsteuber Zipperer. They attended Luther League and sang in the choir there together. They began their married life in Savannah after they married on May 30, 1936.
At the end of World War II, he served with the U. S. Army occupation forces in Japan. He worked for a short time for the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York. For many years, Jackson worked at Cut-Art Stone Company in Savannah, which was founded by his father-in-law Max Kleinsteuber. He worked construction for some time including helping with restoration work at Jerusalem Lutheran Church.
In 1962, he went to work in Savannah for the United States Post Office. For most of his career he was a letter carrier in Garden City and Port Wentworth, and was affectionately known there as "Zip" or "Mr. Zip," retiring in 1976.
The Zipperers reared four children: the Rev. A. Jackson Zipperer Jr. of Murfreesboro, Tenn., Betty Z. Symonds, Teresa Z. Butler and Carl Zipperer all of Springfield.
In January 1948, he and Theresa bought a small farm on the Springfield Egypt Road near Springfield and moved their family to the country.
After a while, they replaced the old farmhouse with a comfortable concrete block home. They raised crops, had livestock, vegetables, fruit, grapes, pecans and had beautiful flowers and shrubbery. He milked a cow before and after work, raised hogs along with chickens, ducks, geese and guineas. He grew wonderful blueberries (see in pond photo background), plums, Japanese persimmons and all the usual vegetables like corn, tomatoes, beans and peas. They also grew some things others did not grow like kohlrabi, broccoli, asparagus, figs, carrots, strawberries, beets, high bush blackberries, quince and pomegranates.
His garden was always well tended with rich dark soil and lush green plants that he kept weeded and faithfully watered in dry times. He felt like he lived "in the garden of Eden" his daughter Betty shared and he seldom left it except for work or church.
An avid fisherman of fresh and salt water, he built two ponds on his property and raised brim, bass and catfish. In his retired years, he sat on an inverted plastic bucket fishing by the pond so often that the neighbors thought he was a statue. He enjoyed entertaining family, friends and co-workers with fish frys.
He grew many varieties of grapes on his property. They stretched on wires between poles and bore wonderful fruit. He propagated, planted and pruned vines for friends and family in Effingham County years after he started their little vineyards. Seeing that the owner knew how to properly care for the vines was his mission. Making wine was his pride and joy and family members and close friends looked forward to a bottle of homemade wine for Christmas. He made and provided wine for his church, Holy Trinity Lutheran, up until age 95. As the oldest male member of the congregation, he was recognized, just before he became physically unable able to attend services anymore, with a gift of an engraved silver chalice for faithfully providing wine for the Sacrament for many years.
Jackson was a devout Christian, never missing services until he was physically unable. As a staunch member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church for most of his life, he served many positions of leadership including: vice president of Georgia Alabama Luther League, committee member, church councilman, choir member, Sunday school superintendent and faithful Sunday school teacher. He was well read and had extensive knowledge of the Bible.
Jackson detested television, watching only the news, but did tolerate radio a little better. Vocal of his dislike, he let family members know how little he thought of the nonsense on the screen. He worked very hard all of his life and expected that of others. Theresa and Jackson lived frugal lives surviving off the fruit of their labors on the land they loved, eating fish and game in addition to what they grew. From squirrels, rabbit or turtle stew, pickled herring, baked shad, spiced beef tongue, strong stinky cheese to venison ribs with sauerkraut, they enjoyed things others seldom prepared.
They doted on each other, renewing their vows at a gathering in their daughter’s yard for their 70th anniversary. She passed away in 2008 and he was lost without her. Being married for 72 years is remarkable; some people do not survive that long.
His children were good to him in his last days tending to him along with some loving caregivers. Son Carl and his wife Celeste lived for two years with him, allowing him to stay in his own home. Daughter Betty often kept him at her home in the daytime as long as he was able to travel. Daughter Teresa was nearby, helping often and faithfully tended his yard, flowers and shrubbery keeping it neat and clean. He was so proud to have a son who became a minister and although son Jack lived away in Tennessee, he enjoyed visits with him and his wife Dimples.
In reflection upon his days on earth, he was a Godly man who lived a life of service to the Lord, he worked hard thoroughly enjoying the farm he felt blessed to own and the products he raised there, he loved his wife and lived heartbroken until he joined her in heaven.
When he passed away he was ready to go, having been "waiting," as he told me years before, until dementia took his faculties, for what I think he saw as a long time. Jackson Zipperer, the good and faithful servant, left his love and a great Christian heritage for his family including his four children, eight grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
He was a good man; the likes of him are few and far between. I miss my old friend and "neighbor," as I often referred to him, very much.
This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.