Debbie Whipp, a founder of Antique Alley, the semiannual antique sale stretching from Cleburne to Itasca, passed away Wednesday after a brief illness. She was 56.
For many years, Whipp worked as a real estate agent with Century 21 and at Comanche Peak and TXU. She and her late husband, George Whipp, owned Whipp Farm. Also known as “Whippoorwhill Hill” at Antique Alley, the location was a prime spot for vendors and shoppers alike since the early 2000s.
“Debbie, to me, is Antique Alley,” said longtime friend and neighbor, Charlie Eubanks. “I don’t think anyone else could have even half kept it going. If it weren’t for her, there would be no Antique Alley.”
Eubanks said he will remember Whipp as a considerate and caring person, always putting the needs of antique vendors well before her own.
“She had an outstanding personality,” said her youngest brother, David Sullivan. “She always loved to help people and was a real giving person. I can’t say enough good about her.”
One of her friends, Donna Bonham, recalls Whipp much the same, crediting Whipp for introducing her to her husband and for her own family’s love of antique hunting.
“The most I can say is, it was like it was her calling, like it was meant to be,” Bonham said. “The last couple of years, it’s gotten to the point where Antique Alley almost takes care of itself. She had three concerns over the last weeks: her family, Antique Alley and her cat.”
Sugar Baby, Whipp’s cat, is going to be cared for by a family member, said Whipp’s niece, Marlotta Montgomery.
“She had him spoiled,” Sullivan said with a laugh. “He’s a fat cat. He loved to sit in her lap.”
Those close to Whipp also remember her fondness for bird watching, something which she did on a near-daily basis.
“That was something that kept her going [after her husband passed away], because she would go sit in various spots of her property and watch them,” Montgomery said. “She knew where all the birds nests were and she had hummingbird feeders everywhere.”
Nita Redmon, a fellow antique dealer based in Grandview said she was saddened to hear of Whipp’s passing.
“It was shock to me to find out she had passed,” she said. “I know she was very instrumental in Antique Alley. And she was very, very business savvy. She and George were just salt of the earth. Good people.”
Montgomery and Bonham each said Whipp’s quick passing is bittersweet, as George Whipp suffered with cancer for many years — something which Debbie Whipp said she would have never wanted for herself.
Montgomery said Whipp recently asked her if Antique Alley would continue after she passed away.
“I told her, Antique Alley will happen in April and it will be a very special Antique Alley,’” Montgomery said. “‘It will be all for you. Everything will be for you. So you be sure and watch, to make sure we don’t mess it up.’”