Cover photo for R. Jim Chipman's Obituary
R. Jim

R. Jim Chipman

American Fork

Ralph Jim Chipman was born on August 15, 1943, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Curtis and Faye Chipman. He was the second son in a family of four boys; Max, Jim, Kenneth Ray, and Joe. In Jim’s own words, his life was filled with hard work, close family ties, and lots of wonderful experiences. When he was only a year and a half old, the family moved to American Fork to the farm that had been owned by Jim’s grandpa, Elmer Chipman. They raised turkeys, chickens, sheep, grain, peas, and sugar beets. While Jim was at home, he always had farm chores to do after school which often kept him out of trouble and taught him to work hard.

Jim attended elementary school in American Fork, American Fork Junior High, and graduated from American Fork High School. Jim lettered in tennis at the high school but his first love was basketball. He wasn’t tall enough to play high school ball, but he played church basketball and was known for his long shots, even from the half-court line. Their ward team competed in the regional finals, which in those days was a big deal.

After high school graduation, Jim enrolled at BYU where he majored in Business Management with an emphasis in banking and finance. After his first year at BYU, he was called on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serving in the Eastern Atlantic States. He loved teaching the gospel and he learned how to study which helped him at school when he returned home. Jim was always active in the church and served in many callings in his short life.

The summer after his mission, he went to work for Savage Brothers Inc. Neal Savage was a great mentor, boss, and friend for many years and financially supported part of Jim’s mission. Jim operated a heavy-duty loader at a construction site in Ogden. He also worked for his brother, Max, building boat seats and upholstering the inside of boats.

During his junior year at BYU, Jim married Susan Smith, daughter of Leland and Joyce Smith, on June 17 in the Salt Lake Temple. While in his senior year, Jim received his first draft notice so he applied for a deferment to finish his last year of college. A day or two after graduation, he went to the draft board office and they were preparing his second draft notice. He had always dreamed of flying airplanes but the Air Force had no openings for pilots. However, the Marines needed pilots so he was sworn into the Marines the next day and put on deferred enlistment.

After a short time with General Foods as a sales representative, he started his basic training and officer candidate school in Quantico, Virginia, and then on to pilot training at Vance Air Force base in Enid, Oklahoma. After pilot training, he was stationed at Cherry Point Naval Air Station to learn how to fly like the Navy, including training to fly on an aircraft carrier. At Cherry Point, he also learned to fly the A-6 Intruder. He was promoted to First Lieutenant and then to Captain just before he received orders to serve in Vietnam.

In 1972, Jim flew several missions a week in Vietnam as part of the war effort. On December 27, 1972, Jim’s plane was shot down over North Vietnam and he and his navigator, Ron Forrester, were listed as missing in action. This past July 2023, while a recovery team was investigating a crash site in Vietnam, they found Jim’s dog tags and some remains that were positively identified as belonging to Captain Ralph Jim Chipman. After more than 50 years, part of Jim is being returned to American Fork where he grew up.

Jim is survived by his wife, Susan Richards, and his two sons, Scot Lee Chipman and Matthew Curtis Chipman.

Please click the link below to join the webinar:
Passcode: 683266

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of R. Jim Chipman, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Graveside Service

Saturday, November 11, 2023

1:00 - 1:45 pm (Mountain time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Visits: 1951

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree