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Dr Frank Joseph Cipriano, 82, and Ingrid Diane Cipriano, 76

| September 15, 2021 1:00 AM

Dr. Frank Joseph Cipriano passed away unexpectedly on Aug. 29, 2021.

Ingrid Diane Cipriano, his wife of 44 years, passed away last year June 10, 2020.

Dad was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1939 to Italian immigrants. The family legend tells of his grandfather, a Sicilian farmer, who lost his only valuable possession, a mule, forcing him to become an indentured servant and immigrating to the United States. He was raised in rural Chicago with his brother and sister. His mom was a tough little Italian who instilled a hard work ethic in him, one he passed on to his children. Whenever we would whine about chores he would recall tales of carrying 25-pound sacks of chicken feed up a hill, or walking 5 miles to school, in the snow … barefoot.

He graduated from the University of Illinois in three years. The next year he got married, started a family, joined the Army and entered medical school. During his time in the military, like a good Italian Catholic, he expanded his family to five children. He was stationed in five different bases (coincidence?) and did a tour in Vietnam. It was during his time stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado that he fell in love with the mountains. While he didn’t talk about his time in the service much, he was always proud of it and flew the American flag in front of his home until the day he died.

Once discharged from the service, he moved his family to Aspen, Colorado. He practiced there from 1971 to 1981. He had many stories of those days watching Aspen turn from a sleepy ski bum town into a resort for the rich and famous. He is fondly remembered there for the excellent care he gave the community. The highlight of his career there was when he treated Jill St. John for an ankle sprain. At least I think it was, as he told the tale often.

Unfortunately, his first marriage ended in Aspen. But out of tragedy, came the relationship that would change his life. Ingrid Diane Tepper was a spunky New York nurse who was working as a traveling nurse at Aspen Valley Hospital. She was smart and opinionated with a heart of gold. She was also an excellent skier. So, Dad had to learn how to ski. He was not good, but he got the girl. They were married in 1976. He promptly stopped skiing. Three boys were born of this second marriage, and they decided that as Aspen was becoming an uninhibited party town, they would move his practice to a quieter setting.

Mom and Dad moved to Sandpoint, Idaho, in 1980. Here they raised their three boys and immersed in the Sandpoint lifestyle. Dad loved gardening and golf. Mom took up stained glass, and became an excellent quilter. She also took up golfing. She got quite good at golf. Dad, an Evan’s scholar, threatened to quit playing golf after her second hole in one, something he had not yet achieved. He did continue playing and finally did get that hole in one.

His orthopedic practice in Sandpoint touched many in the community. For much of it, he was the only orthopedic surgeon in town. By the time he retired in 2001, he was known as an excellent, compassionate, straightforward surgeon. Many of his patients have relayed fond stories to me; one told me of a time when her husband broke his hip. They were distraught, the husband anxious and confused. My dad saw them in the ED, he leaned in close to the man, held his hand, and firmly told him he would be all right, that my dad would mend his injury. His commanding presence and confidence immediately calmed the man.

After retirement, they were snow birds for a while, but ultimately moved to Tucson, Arizona. There they enjoyed golf and hanging out with a contingent of Aspen old-timers who had retired there. In the summer they would travel and see their many children and grandchildren.

Mom lost her long battle with lung cancer in the summer of 2020. She died peacefully at home surrounded by her sons and husband.

Dad died unexpectedly at home in a fall.

We are, of course, devastated by the loss of our father and mother in one year. They touched many lives during their journey, but none so deeply as ours.

They are survived by eight children; Doug Cipriano, Laura Lahood, Christine Supawit, Lisa Bauer, Kathleen Cipriano, Frank Cipriano, Greg Cipriano and Andrew Cipriano; as well as 18 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.

There will not be any formal ceremony, but his children will be gathering in Sandpoint next summer in a celebration of life. If you wish to send condolences, they can be sent to Doug Cipriano, 1751 Gooby RD. Sandpoint, ID 83864. I will hang on to all thoughts for the family to read next summer.