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'Happy smiling face' retires from YMCA: Sally Hipes' retirement bittersweet

Sally Hipes gives a speech at her retirement party to give thanks to everyone at the YMCA, who she calls her second family. ABBY BREAUX. (click for larger version)

Dennis “Buck” Buckley and Sally Hipes reminisce about fun memories together. ABBY BREAUX. (click for larger version)

Sally Hipes and her family enjoying the retirement party. ABBY BREAUX. (click for larger version)

From left: Larry Hall, Jeni Hipes, John Hipes, Sally Hipes, Cindy Bennett and Jill Hipes. ABBY BREAUX. (click for larger version)
April 01, 2013
CUMMING, Ga. — Sally Hipes started working at the YMCA 15 years ago and now at age 82, she has decided to retire.

She started at the Alpharetta Y and moved to Cumming seven years ago when they opened at Vickery Village.

The YMCA staff hosted a retirement party for her on March 28 at the Y in Vickery Village, 6050 Y Street in Cumming.

Nearly 200 friends, family and Y members gathered to celebrate with Hipes.

Hipes started her day at 5:15 a.m. every day, opening the facility and greeting early morning exercisers as they arrived.

"She is what makes coming in at 5 a.m. fun," said friend and Y member Tammy Pruto. "My son is 11 and was almost in tears because he couldn't see Sally off today."

Vick Pruto agreed.

"She just has that warm Grandma smile," Vick Pruto said. "It is very nice to start your day with her. I have been coming to the YMCA five days a week for six years now. I have a hard time imagining this place without her."

Co-worker Genna Matteson said members who come in the morning tell her she will be missed.

"She is the sweetest lady," Matteson said. "She always matches her clothes and is a great inspiration to our members."

Kerry Carithers, senior membership and wellness director at the Y, called Hipes, "our happy smiling face."

"It is bittersweet for me," Carithers said. "I know she will be back to volunteer because this has been such a huge part of her life."

Hipes was presented with a 15 years of service plaque and a lifetime membership award to the YMCA.

Hipes lives in Cumming and in her retirement hopes to travel, finish home projects, exercise and continue coming to the Y to volunteer.

"I can't believe there are so many people here," Hipes said. "I have a wonderful family and now I have a second family."

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