Under the Dome

Edward Brandt Hipp, former NC Utilities Commission, has died

Edward Brandt Hipp, a longtime Raleigh resident who served on the N.C. Utilities Commission for 12 years, died Monday, Nov. 19, in Greensboro. He was 91.

Hipp is survived by his three children – Edward Brandt Hipp, Jr., Donna Horton and Ellen Smith. His wife of 60 years, Dorothy, predeceased him.

During World War II while serving in Germany, Hipp was permanently injured, and was awarded a Silver Star. He returned to North Carolina and earned a bachelor's degree at Davidson College and a law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"To come home and have such a major lifestyle change with the injury, he was always very grateful to have made it," said his daughter Ellen Smith. "Very few people realized he could not use his right arm. ... He was really a behind the scenes man. He didn't do anything with the purpose of taking the limelight."

George Anderson, a longtime friend of Hipp's, said he remembers his friend living "life just like it ought to be lived, the way it should be."

"If you knew Ed and he knew you, he would do nothing but tell the truth, good or bad," Anderson said. "It didn't matter if it was family, friends or church, he was honest and brought people together."

Those traits showed through in his legal career.

In 1976, Hipp successfully argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the state Utilities Commission. Smith said the family never even knew of the case until they went through papers in the attic.

His career on the Utilities Commission spanned controversial and rapidly-changing times for utilities, including turmoil in electric rates caused by the Arab oil embargo in the early 1970s and its impact on fuel prices and the break-up of the Bell system, according to a 1989 story about Hipp in The News & Observer.

At his retirement ceremony, Hipp echoed a traditional Chinese saying: "I think we have lived in interesting times," he said. "But there are more interesting times ahead. I envy you that will stay with this work, and I will try and stay in touch with it as the years go on."

He promised at the time to take a good long vacation and enjoy retirement, and Smith said he did exactly that.

A service will be held Saturday, Nov. 24, at 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church on 112 S. Salisbury St. in Raleigh, where Hipp was an active member and elder of the church for many years. The family will receive guests beginning at 1 p.m. 

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