Delphine Kipp, 100, visiting homemaker in Burlington County

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Delphine Olsommer Kipp

Delphine Olsommer Kipp, 100, of Mount Holly, who grew up poor on a northern Pennsylvania farm, died of pancreatic cancer on Tuesday, April 26, at the Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice in Mount Holly.

The cancer was diagnosed less a week before her death, said a daughter, Doris Alaimo.

Elisabeth Olsommer, Mrs. Kipp's mother, died of cancer at 36, when Mrs. Kipp was 9 years old, Alaimo said, "and she thought she would die young too."

For her longevity, Mrs. Kipp spoke of early years of "hard work," a lifelong diet free of processed foods, and, Alaimo said, "she did drink milk every day."

So at her mother's death, Mrs. Kipp became the woman of the house, on the family's crop farm in Greentown, Pike County.

There, she told Alaimo, Mrs. Kipp and her brother, Felix, were expected to do more than heavy lifting.

The children had to dig stones from fields to make the land ready for plowing. They had to help load them onto a sled, which horses would drag to the edge of a field.

Mrs. Kipp learned to milk the family's cows, sometimes a dangerous job.

"One cow there didn't like women," Alaimo said. "If my mother milked that cow, it would kick over the bucket. And my mother would kick the cow."

And Mrs. Kipp learned to lead the farm's horses to lakeside watering - also dangerous for youngsters who didn't stay clear of hooves.

But, she told her children, she did that and more.

Her parents' eight-bedroom home was open to paying visitors from the Philadelphia region because the farm, Alaimo said, was "very poor."

Summer visitors "usually stayed for a week," she said, though "one woman from Philadelphia brought up her own brass bed," for a stay of a couple of months.

"My grandfather would pick them up in his horse-drawn wagon at a train station."

And as early as when she was 11 in the mid-1920s, she was making pancake breakfasts for them.

"She had an aunt who lived up the hill," Alaimo said, "but Mom had a lot of tasks that would have been done by her mother."

There was another limit.

"The person in charge of the high school did want her to move," to get her close to classes, "but her father wouldn't allow that."

So, though Alaimo said "she was very smart" and was a lifetime reader, she never went beyond eighth grade.

Mrs. Kipp married a union electrician in her early 20s but, her daughter said, "they left the farm 75 years ago because the house burned down" in a windstorm.

A resident of Mount Holly for 60 years, she got her first salaried work, which lasted from her 60s into her 70s, with Burlington County Visiting Homemakers and Health Services in Lumberton.

She became a visiting homemaker, her daughter said, "so she could take care of mothers with new babies."

And at Covenant Baptist Church in Lumberton, "she went to church twice on Sundays," and once on Wednesday evenings.

Besides her daughter Doris Alaimo, Mrs. Kipp is survived by sons Bob and Jack, daughter Louise Warden, eight grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and seven great-great-grandchildren.

She was predeceased by her husband, Tillman, and their son Earl.

A visitation was set from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 1, at Perinchief Chapels, 438 High St., Mount Holly, with a 4 p.m. funeral service there.

Donations may be sent to Covenant Baptist Church, 528 Main St., Lumberton, N.J. 08048.

Condolences may be offered to the family at www.perinchief.com.

wnaedele@phillynews.com

610-313-8134 @WNaedele