Kenneth Elmer Ypparila’s story started on Oc. 2, 1927. He was lovingly known as “Yippie.” Yippie was born in Newell, South Dakota, to Henry and Minnie Ypparila. He had two brothers and three sisters. The Ypparila Family immigrated to South Dakota from Finland. In approximately 1912, his parents homesteaded land in South Dakota where Yippie grew up and graduated high school in Newell.
Life during the homesteading days required that all in the family work on the farm. Though little time for fun, at times he could be found skating on the irrigation canals with his sister.
Life was difficult at that time and that’s where his frugality started at a young age.
Did Yippie have friends? Why, of course, he was able to make many friends all over the country. He had a good memory of jobs and stories to tell. In fact, we finally realized why he knew so many people that when he went somewhere. He never had to pay for a motel. He stayed with friends (his frugality at work!).
Yippie’s life’s work started as a school bus driver in South Dakota. He eventually moved and lived in Denver, Colorado, to work for a construction company. It was in Denver that he and his wife, Maxine, started a family. In time they moved to the Byron area and ended up beside the Penrose Dam with many loving and kind neighbors surrounding them.
Work now took a turn for Yippie to start his own business in the construction area. He was well known for his work with concrete and blocks. In fact, when you are taking a stroll along the countryside and you come upon a concrete ditch, you might see a signature piece of Yippie there.
Yippie turned on another gear when he heard the concrete truck coming down the road, he would yell “CONCRETE!” Every piece of concrete he poured he had to write on it!
A Finnish song could be heard by some of Yippie’s dear friends as he would try to cheer them up. As well as the saying: “Ya – ya – ya- ya.” Was Yippie really listening when he said that? One will never know.
The roads in Wyoming are safe now as Yippie is not driving on them. He always liked to gawk around — good thing he lived in Wyoming where cars were very few and far between!
Yippie and his brother, Sonny, loved to travel back to the family farm. On one of their trips back to South Dakota, they arrived at his sister’s house at 7 p.m. Yippie said, “Do you have anything to eat?” His sister said, “Happy Hour is at 4:30 and we eat right after that and I expect you to be on time!” The next trip to South Dakota, Sonny told Yippie, “We better leave early because we don’t want to make our sister mad!” They had dinner that night!
Volunteer projects Yippie loved. He worked on numerous Kingdom Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses doing block, concrete and stone work. Most of the time he spent on those projects he loved the fellowship and could yack ‘till his heart’s content. In those Kingdom Hall working days he went from Rifle, Colorado, all the way to Havre, Montana, and from Hamilton, Montana, to Deadwood, South Dakota, while not leaving out the projects in Wyoming.
Friends of Yippie’s from Southern California who had moved to Wyoming recalled they had never met anyone like him. They feel it was a real learning experience, as well as a real kick, to hear his winsome words in Wyoming vernacular. They will never forget he gave a Bible talk one time on Queen Esther … he said: “Ahasarassus wanted the misses to come out and show how purdy she was.” All laughed. More of Yippie’s vernacular they remembered was, “awe, what ya doin that for?” (in a disappointed whine!) They feel he was always a dear friend who had a good large heart.
In Yippie’s later years, he was very well taken care of at West Park’s Long Term Care Center. For that we would like to say thanks for keeping him warm and very very well fed. A huge thank you for taking care of an elderly man who could make you mad in less than five minutes and in 10 minutes would love you to pieces for helping him so much. Thank you to all who had a part in his care.
Yippie is survived by his five children, Sam Ypparila of Cody, Marcia Walker of Powell, Kenny Ypparila of Texas, Karen Rowe of Casper, Sharon Stumpe, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
The Penrose area was where Yippie loved living. His burial will be in the Penrose Cemetery. There will be no memorial arrangements at this time.
We all know Yippie loved his Western wear, was a good story teller and a man who touched many lives. As a collector of many things, Yippie called it “ART” and some called it “JUNK.” (Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder!) If you have any of his “ART” – know that he is happy you have it and enjoy.
Thank you to all who shared a part of his life that he enjoyed to two months shy of 94. Yippie passed away on Sunday, July 25, 2021. He is now quietly sleeping and waiting for his favorite scripture at Revelation 21:3,4 to be fulfilled and waking up to a world that will be full of peace and happiness.
To leave condolences to the family, visit www.ballardfh.com.