They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I wonder how many books Pete & Elaine Tekippe have written with 40 years of taking photographs of the people and the places in Story City?


A peek in the window of family portraits, high school senior, or wedding photos has been a frequent stop these past 40 years for those on an early morning walk or an evening stroll in the downtown area.


Pete & Elaine have been an involved community couple who care a great deal about Story City. It might be easier listing what they haven’t been involved in or what they haven’t contributed to over the years. For many years Elaine served on the school board and when Thora Kinseth decided to step down from the Reliance State Bank Board she wanted another businesswoman who was committed to Story City. All Thora did was look down Broad Street to find who she was looking for — Elaine Tekippe. When Story City first became a Main Street Community we needed a person to chair the board who not only owned a business, but was committed to downtown, a leader everyone respected, could pull people together, and put the community’s interest ahead of their own — that would be Pete Tekippe.


What a wonderful business for Pete & Elaine to have spent their lives in. They’ve been able to celebrate in some of the most joyful times in a person’s life: when a young person is about to set off into the world on life’s journey upon graduating from high school, the expression of love when two people are joined together in marriage, and when a family unites across generations for a family portrait.


The photographs Pete has taken tells not only the story of a person or family, but the history of our Story City community as well. His iconic photo of the swinging bridge, the high school senior class on the playground apparatus in the North Park, and behind the theater of the staircase that leads to the second floor.


On my desk sits a photo from one of Elizabeth Joy’s (a.k.a. Dolly), senior pictures. It is one she really doesn’t prefer, but the one that brings me a little laughter, some joy during the day, and one I often say to myself, “yep, that’s my child.” Dolly wanted her senior pictures taken at ISU’s Memorial Union. While Pete was taking her pictures, a bus pulls up that says, “Dolly’s Party Bus.” Pete had that feel for capturing the moment and had Dolly stand next to the bus and snapped some pictures. Not only was the right name on the bus that pulled up at the right time, but what she was wearing went with the bus. You could not have planned it any better and who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor.


To be honest I’m a little sad. For these past 40 years, Pete & Elaine captured the best moments in our lives and in the life of our community. Looking at the pictures in the window over the years showed us what we were and the reflection back to us is what we have become.


As Pete & Elaine relocate their business from their current studio, they are displaying pictures taken over the last 40 years.


If you are out for a walk, stop by and take a look in the window. Think about how things have changed over the years, reminisce about family and friends, and thank Pete and Elaine for sharing our story, the Story of Story City over these last 40 years. They’ve shown us who they are and who we are through their photographs and what it means to be a community — kindness, generosity and involvement.