Pat and Gary Vipond – A Lifetime of ‘Doing’

For these two active 87-year-olds, giving back to the community has been a lifetime commitment.

November 22, 2023 | | Local Heroes

A conversation with Pat and Gary Vipond inevitably reveals the open friendliness, warmth and generosity of spirit that are evident in everything they do. And for these two 87-year-olds, “doing” has been a lifetime commitment.

In recent years, their activities have included the Headwaters Refugee Sponsorship Committee. A Syrian family the committee sponsored has become good friends. “Their daughter Sarah was born after they arrived,” says Pat. “Now she’s seven years old, and every couple of weeks we get to pick her up from school and spend time with her.” Gary adds, “One of the best times we had with the family was when they obtained their citizenship. It was on Zoom because of Covid. We all watched them become Canadian citizens.”

Gary is also actively involved with the men’s fellowship group at Orangeville’s Westminster United Church. “Basically, it was a dinner and a singsong,” he says, “but I wanted to hear some speakers.” Now he has them lined up until spring. Early on, curiosity also figured in Gary and Pat’s involvement with the Orangeville Probus Club, where both have served as president.

Gary and Pat, outside their farm in Caledon.

In May, Gary participated “virtually” in the annual hike for Bethell Hospice. He gathered sponsors and hiked independently around his neighbourhood daily for a week, covering 35 kilometres.

The couple have also been longtime champions of the arts. And for Pat especially, this means music. In 1979, she became the founding director of the Orangeville Show Chorus, the local chapter of Sweet Adelines International. She has been singing baritone in the a capella harmonies of the 40-voice choir ever since. Along the way, she studied to become a certified director in 1993 and then a master director in 2009, and accompanied choir members to many international shows and competitions. She retired as director nine years ago, but she continues to sing, both with the Show Chorus and in a barbershop quartet.

In Thistletown, where they lived before moving to a Caledon farm in the ’70s, Pat and Gary were on a committee arranging a concert for the 75th anniversary of Thistletown United Church and they brought in the Elmer Iseler Singers. Years later, when they were involved with the Orangeville Concert Association, they brought the famed choir to town, twice, along with many other renowned Canadian musicians. Gary has also supported local arts, serving as president of the Dufferin Arts Council for four years.

Theatre Orangeville likewise receives their ardent support. Pat and Gary regularly attend performances and the fundraising gala. “We always go out for dinner and theatre with our little group on the last Friday of a performance,” says Pat.

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  • And then there’s the local book club, and other events in the Orangeville neighbourhood they moved to in 2009. Pat brings out their appointment calendar to show how busy they are. Nearly every day includes at least one activity. Of particular note was one Sunday this past June, when the couple celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary, predictably at Westminster United. In attendance were members of their wedding party, all four of their kids, their wives and husbands, most of their 10 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren, friends and neighbours.

    What keeps them so involved in their community? “It keeps us going,” says Pat. “Being involved with people, that’s what life is all about, isn’t it?”

    About the Author More by Tony Reynolds

    Tony Reynolds is a freelance writer who lives happily above Broadway in Orangeville.

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