The Alpha-1 Foundation Mourns the Loss of Veteran Coordinator Gayle Tipper

It is with great sadness that we share the news that veteran AlphaNet Coordinator Gayle Allison Tipper passed away on March 9, 2021. Gayle joined AlphaNet in 1999 and devoted more than 21 years to serving the Alpha-1 community. Gayle was deeply passionate about Alpha-1 education and helped countless Alphas find needed resources and support in her role as an AlphaNet Coordinator. In her early days at AlphaNet, Gayle was instrumental in organizing and establishing Alpha-1 support groups and would travel across the country to educate support groups and support group leaders. She also advocated for Alpha-1 awareness in Washington DC and even attended the announcement of the human genome project completion at the White House in 2000.

“Gayle was just a ball of fire. Following her AlphaNet subscribers, educating new Coordinators, organizing support groups while training their leaders, sending me all over the country to speak with patients and docs. So many current leaders in the Alpha-1 community have told me, ‘Gayle was my first AlphaNet Coordinator.’ So many, in fact, that I think some are misremembering – they simply know that she was the one who spoke at an event or answered a patient question in such detail and with such good humor that they felt they had a relationship with her. She will be sorely missed,” said Dr. Robert A. Sandhaus, AlphaNet Vice President and Senior Medical Director.

Gayle was diagnosed with Alpha-1 in 1998 at the age of 34 after discovering it in a somewhat accidental manner. She was scheduled to have foot surgery and, prior to surgery, Gayle’s doctor ordered a chest X-ray to check her lungs because she was experiencing some lingering cold symptoms. The X-ray indicated she had severe COPD. Gayle researched COPD in an old medical reference guide and read a paragraph about Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency. She told her primary care physician and he tested her for Alpha-1. The tests confirmed she was an Alpha.

Before joining AlphaNet, Gayle worked in planning and development for a public utility company for 14 years. She was a past board member of the Alpha-1 Association, editor of the AWARE newsletter created for Alpha-1 Association support groups, former support group leader in both West Virginia and North Carolina, and past member of the Alpha-1 Association Support Group Leader Advisory Council. Gayle was an avid believer in the benefits of support groups. She was also involved with the Alpha-1 International Network and served as Vice-Chair.

Gayle was actively involved in her church and was devoted to helping the children/youth ministries in her church community. Gayle loved spending time with her family, gardening, painting and crafts, and studying the Bible.

She is survived by her husband of 12 years, Larry Tipper, III; her mother, Sandy Hogan; her brother, Lee Hogan; two sisters, Vera Standish and Raeanne Hogan Rosenecker (Chuck); along with five children, Leighanne Richardson (Sean), and Wesley Allison, Deana, Andres, and Jordan Tipper.

A memorial service will take place on Saturday March 13, 2021 at 11 AM ET at Silver Lake Baptist Church in Wilmington, North Carolina. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to the Alpha-1 Foundation.