Tuesday, May 7, 2024

“Don’t hand me paper, give me a job:” Ed Kipp, a hands-on Cranberry Lake volunteer

Ed Kipp

Adirondack Almanack contributor, Susan Sweeney Smith, who has written stories about Cranberry Lake, has shared a series of profiles highlighting Cranberry Lake community leaders who dedicate much of their time and energy to volunteer work. These profiles were originally published on the Cranberry Blog. Check out the Cranberry Blog here, and please enjoy Susan’s fourth submission, a profile on Ed Kipp below.

What brought you to Cranberry Lake? When?

My mother started coming here in 1919 when she was 9. She came to the Narrows in Wanakena with a family that owned the house there. They brought my mother along to be a playmate for their daughter.

Years later in the 1960’s, her brothers the Englerts (Jack and Ray) bought camps and so my mom decided she would spend a few weeks every summer at Watkins cabins. Finally she decided to buy a place and in 1972 she bought what was originally Dr. Sutton’s place and is now our home. Dr Sutton was our beloved painter Jeanne Reynolds’ father.

We been fixing it up ever since.

I was married in front of our camp in 1973 and I’ve been coming here ever since. Father Ruddy helped officiate – he did summer masses at the Cranberry Lake Inn. I came up for weekends while working and then for summers when I retired in 1997.

When you first came, did you think you’d end up staying here?

I really liked it when I came in ’72 to see my mom. I like water and boats and wilderness. I’ve been hiking since I was 6 all over the wilderness outside of Rochester. So this place made sense and I liked the camp she picked. I expected once we owned the camp that I would spend a lot of time here – as much time as I could put in while working and then full summers.

I was married here on our lawn. At our wedding, which was supposed to be a family gathering we looked out and the island in front of the house was full with about 50 people. At the time I didn’t know who they were….our wedding became a big wedding through word of mouth.

What was your first volunteer activity?

I joined the fire department at home in Irondequoit in 1968. I was active on the ambulance and fire fighting – worked my way up to chief.

I always enjoy helping people when I can.

I joined the The Cranberry Lake Boat Club Board – and was even Vice Commodore one time. I was Vice when Allen Splete was Commodore.

I helped out with events like the Poker Paddle. First year I ran the stop at Hawk’s Next and I still do that today.

I helped with the Cardboard Boat Races. I helped build the pavilion. There are certain things I’m not good at like paperwork, but I am good at hands-on projects.

Ed Kipp Installing the Sidewalk at the HUB

Ed Kipp installing the sidewalk at the HUB. Photo provided by Susan Sweeney Smith.

How many volunteer jobs have you had here?

I already mentioned the Boat Club.

Founding Member of the Cranberry Lake North Shore Hub Board, still active today.

Why do you volunteer here?

In such a small place, you get to know everybody. Volunteering is a great way to meet people. I like interacting with people.

Who inspires you here?

My mother was in the Boat Club and on the board. I became a member because she was a member. Then, Clint Farnsworth asked me to be on the board somewhere in the 2000’s and it was natural to say yes.

Clint Farnsworth asked me to be on the HUB Board.

I don’t know really know who inspires me now. I’m kinda old to be inspired. I just do what I can do. I enjoy doing it. Don’t hand me paper. Give me a job.

I was an engineer for Kodak and I retired from paperwork when I retired from Kodak.

What are the best memories you have of Cranberry?

Obviously the old days when the Inn was open and it was the place to go.

All the best memories go with the lake destinations that don’t exist now – the Inn, Chair Rock Lodge run by Sarge Boss’s mom- she only cooked one thing each night, we’d call up and if you wanted to she would send out her boat to get you; Wildcliff; The Emporium;The Evergreen; the Pine Cone.

When we first came in 73, it was the last year of mailboat delivery.

The HUB is important. The docks there are critical. How can you have a successful lake town without a town dock? It’s really important for people who only have lake access. The HUB docks were a big accomplishment.

While on the board of The Boat Club. I was on the docks and navigation committee. We had a dock at the Emporium and a dock in Wanakena that had to be maintained. The Boat Club gave the money for the docks in Wanakena when needed. I made sure the buoys were in the right place – I can do them everywhere on this lake. I don’t have that job anymore but I still check the buoys and call the DEC Navigation Aids Dept in Lake Clear. They work out of an old sawmill and they head down to put them back in place. They are responsible for all the buoys in the Park. I haven’t talked to them since last year but if I see a buoy out of place I will call. SUNY ESF biology station calls in the wandering buoys too.

Where is your favorite place to go?

I love the hike to High Falls. You walk across the log, across the beaver damn and to the falls. It’s a great hike.

What do you hope for the future here?

I have been here 50 years. Tuesday the 18th of July is my wedding anniversary.

I hope the destinations open up again. The Emporium could be a beautiful marina. The Lodge was a critical destination year round – a bar is critical, the restaurant was great. We used to hold events there. It was also a destination for snowmobiles. They also provided boat storage.

I don’t want things to get any worse here for businesses. I want the HUB to be a huge success – it will be a real community center. We built something great and I hope it flourishes.

One thing to say to future people…

Enjoy it the way it is, don’t try to modernize it. What’s nice about Cranberry is you can still be alone in wilderness…. don’t ruin the wild nature of Cranberry. Leave your city and suburb notions of place back there. Cranberry is special. Leave it that way.

Photo at top: Ed Kipp installing the sidewalk at the HUB. Photo provided by Susan Sweeney Smith.

Related Stories


Susan Sweeney Smith grew up in Peru, NY and is a 28 year resident of Cranberry Lake. She raised kids and donkeys and dogs and cats in the hamlet. During her professional career she worked in philanthropy and community relations for North Country Public Radio, SUNY Potsdam and supported a host of smaller nfp’s in the region with their philanthropic projects. Today, she’s a community volunteer who believes in Cranberry Lake magic. You can find her writing at https://www.cranberryblog.org/




6 Responses

  1. Joseph DeMart says:

    Hi Susan,
    Nice work. Ed does well pointing out all the venues we lost, the businesses which made Cranberry Lake a robust destination. Has anyone conducted a study focused on ‘what went wrong’ The discovery of the study may be helpful to other ADK communities which are trying to prevent decline . I believe Cranberry was hit by the perfect storm. However, we all wished for yesterday to return, without knowing what actually happened. Thank you for featuring the citizens who make a difference.
    Joe

    • Susan Sweeney Smith says:

      Joe – to my knowledge no one has done any comprehensive analysis of this region. You may remember the strategic planning the Smart Growth Committee did over a decide ago that identified areas of strategic focus – summarizing the loss of major industries and identifying ways to reinvent the region as a tourism destination a as potential futures for the J and L site. A lot of that work has resulted in progress. Unfortunately, the hamlets are strapped providing key services and visionary work is a challenge to define and fund. We are not unique and an analysis might be helpful. Small businesses struggle with the seasonality of income streams and that only gets more challenging. I miss your incisive analytical skills. Hope you are well.

  2. Lillian Antoci says:

    I love the last statement Ed Kipp made about keeping Cranberry Lake as is. Too many people are trying to modernize the Adirondack. Modern structures and more people only mean the Adirondack will lose its wilderness and charm. Tree destruction, traffic, litter, noise, and the displacement of wildlife are not warranted here. The Adirondack is supposed to be a quiet and simple way of life. We don’t need the hustle and bustle of big city life up here.

  3. donald iarussi says:

    we are new here from Montana. My wife, myself and 16 1/2 yr old son who recently graduated High School. He as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome but can give you some time. Thank you volunteers for our hard work. We need to really clean up Newton Falls.

  4. Susan Sweeney Smith says:

    Welcome to our region! Glad to know you choose to engage!

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Wait! Before you go:

Catch up on all your Adirondack
news, delivered weekly to your inbox