Former Bookstore Owner and Air Force Vet Continues Story at The Chelsea

Jack Tripp is entranced by the latest news he’s watching on television. The current events overseas between Russia and Ukraine is history albeit unfortunate and tragic. But Tripp is a self-proclaimed historian, and news and stories of all kinds pique his interest.

In his room, he has a stack of books sitting on a small circular table at the foot of his bed. He loves to read and he loves to learn.

That’s evident by the framed Bachelor’s Degree hanging on the wall that he earned 12 years ago from Fairleigh Dickinson University. It didn’t matter what he majored in, he said, because he really enjoyed the classes and at that point in his life he wasn’t concerned about a career (as you can imagine).

That degree hangs next to various memories of Tripp’s life. All part of a story that continues at The Chelsea at Sparta, a leading Assisted Living and Memory Care community.

Tripp is familiar with the area having worked as a United States Postal Service (USPS) clerk, a real estate professional, and a former bookstore owner in Sussex County.

It wasn’t until later in life when he and his wife moved to the area and made it their home.


Tripp was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY until his parents decided to move to Queens because it was closer to the public school he was attending.

Tripp was working in insurance after high school for a little while until he made the decision to enlist in the military.

There was talk about a draft for the Vietnam War and Tripp had no intention of joining the Army. Instead, he joined the Air Force in 1966.

Tripp is a resident at The Chelsea at Sparta. / Chelsea Senior Living

His grandfather was in the signal corps in World War I, his father was in the Army Air Force in World War II and his uncles were in the Air Force during the Korean War.

“I felt that I was in an Air Force family and that’s the way I wanted to keep it,” Tripp said.


When Tripp left the Air Force in 1970, he returned to New York and started working at his old job in insurance.

Not long after, he started working for RCA Global Communications. Around the corner from the company was a park that he would always stop at during lunch.

“I would go in there and I would feel like I belonged,” he said. “A feeling of déjà vu.”

He would later find out from his grandmother that he was a relative of a Welsch seafaring captain who once saved a member from the royal family in England.

Tripp was a two-time Commander at the American Legion in Newton, NJ. / Chelsea Senior Living

The royal family repaid him by giving him a plot of land in Manhattan, NY.

It just so happened to be the same park that Tripp frequented, also known as Bowling Green.

“That’s why I had this feeling,” he said. “And that transcended me in my general attitude of how I treat people.”


For years, Tripp and his wife had been living in Manhattan and vacationing in different parts of Sussex County. They would rent a trailer and spend their weekends there.

As time passed, they fell more in love with the county and wanted to raise a family there.

In 1981, they became official residents of Andover.

Tripp has been very active in the area.

He’s a two-time Commander of the American Legion (Post 86) in Newton. He still recites a poem during Newton’s Memorial Day celebration every year.

But perhaps he’s most known for the bookstore he and his wife owned.

A framed story hangs in Tripp’s apartment about his bookstore business. / Chelsea Senior Living

They had their eye on it for decades. The first time it was for sale in 1984 they were too late; someone else had bought it. But in 2004 the store was for sale once again. This time they succeeded and finally became owners.

“It was a most enjoyable experience,” Tripp said. “I love to read and I became more of a reader as the owner of a bookstore.”

Tripp and his wife owned the store for 10 years.


Within the past couple of years, though, Tripp was having health issues.

His mobilization was limited and became wheelchair bound.

That is, until he came to The Chelsea, which was initially for a respite stay.

“The Chelsea and FOX contributed to me going from the chair to the walker,” said Tripp, who is also able to walk on his own without supportive aids. “It was also part determination.”

Every morning, Tripp said he’ll make his way to the lobby to greet people before breakfast. He appreciates how he’s treated and wants to return the gesture. It’s how he describes his experience at The Chelsea.

“I’m greeted in a respectful way by people who honestly care about you,” he said.

Tripp was named a Chelsea Ambassador because of his positive and friendly demeanor, his ability to interact with residents, and his constant participation with community-related events and activities.

“To be able to acclimate people who come in who are a little bit perhaps gun shy because they are changing their environment, to make them feel at ease and at home…that’s what I like,” he said. “Because while I’m here, I’m home.”


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