Raymond Rance “Trip” Triplett Jr. of Lenoir and Afton, Wyoming, reached the end of the trail on Tuesday, April 6, at the age of 93. A lifelong adventurer and cowboy, Trip was born Dec. 29, 1927, to Raymond Triplett Sr. and Annie Jane Marley Triplett (later Brawley). As a young boy he roamed the woods in Boomer, where he lived for several years with his Aunt Ruby and Uncle John Earp, who were tenant farmers.
Trip attended Lenoir High School and at 16 left for work in Ohio. At 19 he enlisted in the U.S. Marines. He loved to tell the story that he’d heard how grueling boot camp could be, but that to him it was easier than farm life, with a bonus of regular meals. After the war, he returned to Lenoir, married, and opened a prototype Phillips 66 full-service station, located where McDonald’s stands today.
In 1959 Trip accepted a job offer in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The western culture resonated with him. Every weekend the family explored Indian ruins, ghost towns, and historical sites, instilling in his two children a sense of adventure and curiosity. The family moved on to Los Angeles when Trip received another offer to advance.
Ultimately, Trip and his family returned to Lenoir, where he and his wife, Dean Correll Triplett, founded Triplett’s Furniture Fashions. Through true grit the farm boy realized the American Dream. Proud of his humble roots, he often said, “I look up and thank God every day. I have slept in a house with a dirt floor and in a palace in Switzerland.”
On elk hunting trips, Trip fell in love with northwestern Wyoming. He bought a home in Afton, south of Jackson Hole, spending six months there each year. He often worked on a friend’s ranch rounding up and branding cattle. He camped in remote areas, feeling nature and hunting wild game.
More than a family patriarch, he was an icon, representing the values of hard work, frugality, tolerance, self-reliance, gratitude, and perseverance. He was an advocate of human rights, especially those of Native Americans. Some of the family’s keenest memories are campfire talks that mixed wisdom with his unique brand of humor.
Ever seeking new experiences, Trip visited places like Brazil, Italy, Switzerland, and Mexico. He climbed the Mayan pyramid steps at Chichén Itzá. He sailed on a small boat to the Dry Tortugas. He rode his motorcycle from Lenoir to San Francisco. To assuage his fear of flying, he bought an airplane and learned to fly. His handle was Crash Triplett.
His parents, stepfather John Brawley and all Trip’s siblings preceded him in death: Billie Sue Isbell of Raleigh; U.S. Army Maj. James Triplett of Florence, Alabama; and Sarah Jean Caldwell of Summerville, S.C.
Trip is survived by a family who idolized him: his dedicated and loving wife, Sandra Trivette Triplett; daughter Sheila Triplett-Brady (Judge Bob Brady) of Lenoir; son James D. Triplett (Julie) of Mesquite, Nevada; stepdaughter Kristen Wyatt (Al) of Asheville; and four grandchildren, Jonathan Triplett (Sonya) and Jennifer Ellis (Wayne) of Lenoir, April Harrison (Derek) of Chapel Hill, and Leah Geates (Rob) of Ephrata, Washington. He is also survived by several step-grandchildren, Brittany Ponder (Brian) of Swannanoa, Zachary Wallace of Bailey, Colorado, Hunter Wallace (Nicole) and Elizabeth Wallace of Asheville; great-grandchildren, Brady, Zack, Nathan, Will, Molly (Little Bit), Brooke, Mason, Amelia, and Evie; a sister-in-law, Sarah Triplett of Florence, Alabama, and brother-in-law Retired Colonel James Caldwell; and special nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Even though a service will be private in the First United Methodist Church columbarium, Trip asked that his friends drink a toast and pour a little on the ground for him.
Memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church, 309 Church St. NW, Lenoir, NC 28645; Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care, 902 Kirkwood St. NW, Lenoir, NC 28645; Lenoir Soup Kitchen, 1113 College Ave. SW, Lenoir, NC 28645.
Online condolences may be left at www.greer-mcelveenfuneral
Greer-McElveen Funeral Home and Crematory is assisting the Triplett family.