Highland News Leader

Know Your Neighbor: John Hipskind

It is no coincidence that nearly everyone has heard a lawyer joke. In fact, a 2015 Gallup poll revealed more than 50 percent of the population view attorneys negatively and with disdain.

But to what does attorney John Hipskind attribute his strong moral and ethical standards and what has contributed to making him what appears to practice law in a manner which differentiates him from others?

“My paternal grandparents, Dr. John and Maxine Hipskind, who practically raised my brother and me,” replied John.

John, who is also serving his first term as a Highland City Councilman, was born Nov. 8, 1979, in Belleville to Ken and Paula Hipskind. Greg made John a big brother six years later. Shortly after birth, the family relocated to an area near the Mojave Desert in California.

Unfortunately, the marriage was dissolved in divorce while the boys were of tender years and they were moved frequently. Visiting between parents, John became a caregiver of sorts to Greg. John recalls playing football and riding his BMX bike in the desert. But for the most part, the young boys were not given much direction or supervision.

About 1993, their father moved back to Belleville and John and Greg lived with their grandparents during that transition. John said those beloved grandparents were “the single biggest influence of my life. We always knew our parents loved us and wanted what was best for their children, but like many divorced couples, they did the best they could at that time.”

The Wilmington Parent publication detailed primary reasons grandparents can have such a positive impact on their offspring’s progeny. The study emphasized “strong parental bonds are recognized as being valuable for children, but what is not always recognized is the positive impact that a close relationship between a grandparent and grandchild can have on the happiness and well-being of the entire family. Simply put, having grandparents around is good for everyone.”

“Studies show that as many as nine out of 10 adult grandchildren feel that their grandparents influence their beliefs and values. A child’s perspective of what constitutes a healthy, normal relationship is shaped by the relationship that he or she holds with a grandparent. Through regular contact, a sense of emotional intimacy and unwavering support, children can experience what a true positive relationship should look like.”

John remembers when he made varsity and was proudly sharing the fact with his grandpa.

“Though my grandfather was happy for me, he reminded me not to brag about it because it can be lost in one second,” recalled John. “He taught me a good work ethic and he emphasized honesty.”

From his grandmother Maxine, John said she was a woman of deep compassion and she taught him to treat everyone the same, regardless of their station in life.

“That was powerful to me,” said John. “And I try to perpetuate that rule in my everyday life.”

John graduated from Althoff Catholic High School in 1998 and moved to Kansas with his aunt for two years in an effort to ascertain his career possibilities. He attended the University of Kansas, KU, while contemplating his course in life and wrote the KU newspaper. During that time he covered the George Bush and Al Gore presidential debate in St. Louis. Initially thinking he would ultimately become a physician, he found himself becoming more interested in politics and legislation.

He later returned to Belleville and attended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and graduated in 2004 with a degree in political science and a master’s in public administration. He then attended law school at Oklahoma City University before returning home.

John meets future wife Wendy

Having uncle Tim Hipskind as a doctor and John’s presence at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital as a transfer person, John would often visit with his uncle. Whenever an attractive pharmaceutical representative would make an appearance, Tim would give a shout to John to come to his office to check her out.

On one such day, Wendy made an appearance and Tim was sufficiently impressed he called John. John went to Tim’s office and, yes indeed, he liked what he saw. They began conversing and before the visit was over, Wendy had given John her business card. They soon began dating for about about four years.

During this time John studied for his bar exam while working in the public defenders office. He then practiced criminal law under the Seven Eleven license for one year until he passed the bar. He had been put in a position to work with juvenile delinquents who were alleged murderers.

“I believe working with juveniles was one of my best experiences and I found it easy to connect with them,” said John. “It was fulfilling to me and I felt I could relate more with juveniles than most because they had not grown up with a lot of supervision and often, their parents’ marriages had ended in divorce.”

Then on Aug. 9, 2008, Wendy became John’s bride on a beach in Jamaica. What drew him to Wendy?

“Well, she’s very pretty, easy to talk to and reminds me with her compassion of my grandmother, Maxine,” said John.

Enough was enough for John professionally

For several years John represented large corporations trying to diminish their culpability for negative effects to innocents from products they had produced.

“I didn’t like what I was doing,“ said John. “ I soon realized that I like fighting for people, and a big corporation is not personal.”

About four years ago, Hipskind and McAninch Law Firm was founded and he now fights for folks with personal injuries. John said he is a firm believer in the country’s jury system and people.

Between working, serving as a councilman and volunteering for charitable endeavors, what are John’s hobbies?

“I really don’t have any hobbies,” said John. “My most important activity is being a husband and a good father to our two daughters, Hayley and Hadley. When I have off time, I spend it with my family.”