HomepageHomepage Showcase


San Patricio's 'Mr. Rogers' keeps the love of reading alive

Mr. Kippy has hosted story time at schools and libraries in the county for 32 years.
mr kippy.jpg
Posted at 1:06 PM, May 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-03 14:07:47-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — As it rained on an April morning in Portland, Texas, a ray of sun shined inside the Bell Whittington Library.

Clifford Charles Edge III, 60, could be heard belting ‘Singing in the Rain’ to a group of children and their parents while wearing bright yellow coveralls and holding a rainbow umbrella over his head.

The San Patricio County Children's Librarian is known to the families as ‘Mr. Kippy’, a childhood nickname.

His serenade was part of Mr. Kippy’s Story Time.

“He’s our Mr. Rogers,” Natalie Gillespie said.

Mr. Kippy has hosted story time at schools and libraries in San Patricio County for 32 years.

“It has music and theater and creative dramatics and books and exercises too,” Mr. Kippy said during an interview with KRIS 6 News.

“He makes it fun for kids and adults to come into the library,” Dorothy Torres, the children’s librarian at Whittington, said.

He said his passion for music and theater started at a young age.

“My dad was a Methodist minister,” Mr. Kippy said. “We ended up in Robstown. I went to college and I got a degree in music. I was a vocal major that played tuba and then I went to Angelo State. And then I got a master’s degree from Corpus Christi A&M.”

Mr. Kippy hosts 52 programs a week and it all started when he picked up the paper.

“I saw an ad in the newspaper for storyteller wanted and I thought 'Oh I could do that,' ” he said.

What he thought was part-time work, turned out to be an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. county job.

“They’ve done this since 1972,” he said. “I’ve just been here since 1991.”

His original plan had Mr. Kippy as more of a poised and professional character.

“I thought I would look like a county employee and have a nice tie and suit and it turns out that did not work out very well,” Mr. Kippy said.

So, in came, his signature overalls.

During the interview, Mr. Kippy was asked how many pairs he owned.

“I’ve kind of lost count,” he said. “I think it’s more than 100. Maybe 200? I have clown overalls. I have blue, red, yellow, orange, green, purple, silver, striped, spotted, birds, and dinosaurs.”

Several generations of kids were regulars of his programs.

“Not only do they come when they are kids, they come as adults and say ‘Mr. Kippy, Do you remember me?,” Torres said “And they come back with their kids. That’s the purpose of Mr. Kippy’s program. To raise life-long readers.”

One of those readers was Natalie Gillespie.

“He’s the best,” Gillespie, now an adult, said “I actually went to Mr. Kippy’s story time when I was a kid (…) we’ve been coming since James was one and now he’s three. So, we’ve been coming for two years. It’s just a fun routine that we have every week to get out of the house and hear stories.”

“I had a kid who said, ‘My grandma used to see you at story time,” Mr. Kippy said. “And I’m like ‘Oh no that means I’m old.’’

But the many who know him said he’s young at heart.

“He’s the best,” Gillespie said. “I’m his number one fan.”

Not only is he a storyteller, but Mr. Kippy also rides a unicycle, plays the tuba, is part of the Corpus Christi Wind Symphony, is an actor, a director, and a family man.

“I have a wonderful family and wife and wonderful daughters and two sons-in-law now,” Mr. Kippy said.”

His spirit shines bright, even on a rainy day.

“I love this job because it seems like it makes kids really happy,” Mr. Kippy said. “Getting them enthusiastic about books. And I have a job that lets me have fun and be creative.”

Mr. Kippy does regular Facebook lives and videos announcing the topics he will be reading about that day. For his schedule visit his page.