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"Zip" Zipperer

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) - Mercy Medical Center manager Randy Vincent looks forward to Thursdays.

"Every week, Thursday afternoon, quarter to two, you'll hear footsteps down the hall," he says.

They are the footsteps of a legend, 91-year old paper salesman, Wilfred "Zip" Zipperer. Vincent says, "66 years calling on one location. I don't know if Guiness (World Records) has anything like that, but it's got to be close to a record, or up toward the top."

For 66 years, Zip has supplied Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids with everything from paper towels to tissue. Vincent says, "Last week, he was in here talking about retirement. My jaw dropped, and he goes, 'Yeah, I think another ten years or so, I'm going to have to slow down.'" Vincent adds, "And I wouldn't bet against that."

For a kid who began selling newspapers at 8-years old, he's had a long career. In the early 60's, he met a man named David Pickford who owned a company called Baker Paper. And the rest, they say, is history.

Zip says, "Dave hired me in 1962 and I'm still there. And they can't fire me, 'cause I own the place now! So, that does make a difference."

But it's what happened before 1962 that caught the attention of his Mercy friends.

Vincent says, "He doesn't want to talk about it. It's kind of a lost generation. We're losing more and more all the time."

See, in 1943, Zip enlisted in the army. He ended up in the 3rd Infantry, and ultimately in the Battle of Anzio (Italy). In one attack, he was hit by a sniper's bullet.

"They knew I was hurt." Zip says. "They put me on a stretcher, put me on the hood of the Jeep and wanted to make a turn and slid right off! Slid off in the ditch on the other side. I'm laughing now, but it wasn't funny then!"

Zip ended up with three purple hearts and a commendation from the Republic of France.

While he reluctantly shares these war stories on his weekly visits, he does like to talk about what...or who...is just a few floors up from the store room at Mercy.

"This is my bride, Lillian!"

His wife of 69 years, Lillian, lives in Mercy's Hall-Mar assisted living floor."

He looks at her and smiles, "We never had a donneybrook, have we?"

The two met in September of 1945 and were married six months later.

For Zip's friends in the store room, his success at home and at work are no surprise: true love.

Vincent says, "You can tell he just loves what he does. Mercy is very lucky."

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