Melissa Carter Lipps, age 80, of Lake of the Woods, VA passed away while peacefully on August 29th, 2020 at Spring Arbor Memory Care of Fredericksburg, VA. Even though she battled Alzheimer’s bravely for many years, her love of dance never wavered during her journey through the disease.
She was born Melissa Anne Hutsler on November 4th, 1939 in Washington, DC to the late Charles and Jeanette Hutsler. A Daddy’s girl, she grew up in Arlington, VA helping her sister Bunnie cook family meals and learned to sew her own stylish clothes. Melissa was the fastest typist on the yearbook committee when she graduated from Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, Maryland in 1957. Her dreams of becoming a secretary were dashed in her 30s when she became Champion Roller Skater! But first, she would become a wife to Richard Carter and an instant mother to his four boys and one girl. Later they would add another boy.
It was the long, cold, snowy winters of Michigan that sent her to the roller skating rink after her husband had been transferred to Detroit by General Motors. She found the rink to be a warm place to have fun and get exercise; so she learned to dance on skates. The family transferred back to Virginia and she continued skating at Skateland Fredericksburg. In her competitive skating career, she took first-place multiple times at the Southeastern Regional Amateur Roller Skating Championships in both compulsory figures and dance. Her victories took her to the United States Amateur Championships in Lincoln, Nebraska five times! Even though the first-place podium proved to be elusive, you would always see her smiling. Melissa admitted in a 1987 newspaper article that she never skated a “perfect” figure that it was the difficult challenge of attempting it she enjoyed the most.
Conquering her nerves of skating at the National level inspired her to go to college. She wanted to show her children that anything can be accomplished, no matter your age, if you set your mind to it. So, at the age fifty, she earned a Bachelor of Liberal Studies in Sports Psychology, magna cum laude, from the University of Mary Washington while holding down two part-time jobs, raising a family and training several hours every day!
After her husband Richard passed in 1998, Melissa devoted her energy to country and western dancing, both recreationally and competitively. She competed in pro-amateur couples dance competitions and excelled in line dancing. In 2005, after winning many regional line dancing events, Melissa won first place at the United Country & Western Dance Council Competition in Nashville, Tennessee!
Melissa loved all kinds of dancing and the companionship of dance groups which is where she met her new dance partner, Ron Lipps. It didn’t take too many two-steps before they knew they wanted to dance together for the rest of their lives and they married in 2004. She and Ron traveled extensively around the country attending ballroom dance workshops. They taught choreographed ballroom dancing at Lake of the Woods from 2008 to 2016. From ballroom dancing with the Rappa Rounders to boogying with the Battlefield Boogie Club or line dancing with the Silver Liners and Black Hats and Diamonds, dancing was her passion.
In the midst of all the skating, college classes, and dancing, she found time to raise her children while working at Orange County Social Services until her retirement in 2015 after 37 years of service. She also enjoyed crafting and sewing which included designing and sewing her many skating, square and round dance outfits. There was no end to her many talents; she even designed and implemented the computer network at the Sedwick Building in Orange that houses many of Orange County’s governmental departments. Melissa enjoyed being organized, obsessively organized, and she never missed an anniversary or birthday. Want to know what was for dinner on a Tuesday two months from now? Simply find the day on the calendar and the meal was listed! Her famous homemade chocolate-chip cookies were always available.
Although later her disease kept her from spelling perfectly or following detailed recipes, she always loved spending time with her family and cared about her friends. She would routinely have lunch visits with her sister Bunnie - one of her most favorite things to do. She cared deeply about everyone and their well-being so as they came through her mind, she would ask about them and then smile as she learned they were okay. Melissa also loved her sweets; she was always on a diet but always found a way to sneak in a cookie. Her secret to a great chocolate chip cookie was simply, “not stir the batter too long, you need to keep it clumpy,” she said.
In addition to her parents she was preceded in death by her loving husband Richard Carter. She is survived by her caring husband Ron Lipps and his daughters Tracy Rose and Laura Buffum; sister Barbara Gross; daughter Carrie and sons Brian, Tom, Kevin, Steven and Charlie Carter; twelve Grandchildren, two Great Grandchildren, and many other loved family members.
The family would like to send a sincere thank you to the staff at the Spring Arbor Memory Care of Fredericksburg for their love and care. She enjoyed their many activities and live musical performances, often getting everyone to their feet by dancing with her fellow residents.
A celebration of life will be held with Family and Friends in a private ceremony.
Condolences may be expressed to the family online at johnsoncares.com.
Memorials in her honor may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association alz.org.