Aiken has lost one of its favorite civic volunteers with the passing of Mary Ellen Krippner on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009. Krippner, 77, had lived in Aiken since 1999 and, with her husband, Henry Krippner, devoted a great deal of time and energy to the couple's favorite causes. Over the years she served on the Arts Commission, the board of directors of the Aiken Community Playhouse, and the city's parking advisory committee, as well as supporting the Aiken Railroad Depot and other local organizations. "They were both so involved with the community. They were at every City Council meeting, and they did a community Christmas party every year that was huge," said Carla Cloud, director of the Aiken Downtown Development Association. "They're members of South Aiken Presbyterian Church, where we were members, and I know her daughter Sue Shannon from church and in this job as co-owner of Nandina. Henry was on the board of directors here when I took this position, and when we met and started to put all those things together, we all became very close." Among her other short-term projects were organizational efforts for the Aiken Area Council on Aging's Still Magnolias calendar and campaigning for Michael Hunt for Aiken County Sheriff. Recalled Betty Ryberg, co-chair of the Still Magnolias project, "She was invaluable. I asked her to help because I was aware of her enthusiasm, but I didn't know she would throw in ultimate organization skills. She became our models' mother hen; she kept them calm and reorganized schedules, and she was rock-steady. I absolutely loved working with her. She was like a light; when she was on she was on, which is a wonderful attribute for charity work." Arts Commission member Glenn Parker also praised Krippner's organizational skills. "Mary Ellen served on the Arts Commission from its inception in 2005 up until the last few months. She was an integral part of getting the Commission started and forming the policies it has now," Parker said. "She very much kept us in order in terms of how we run our meetings, and wrote up our meeting protocols. I think that will be one of her legacies with the Commission. She was very dedicated to the arts in Aiken, to taking what we have in Aiken and developing it through the Arts Commission." Krippner's tenure on the Aiken Community Playhouse's board coincided with the drive to build the group's new home, now located on Newberry Street. She was an integral part of that work as well, according to board president Thurmond Whatley. "Mary Ellen Krippner was very helpful in our capital campaign for the new theater. After we moved into the new facility she joined the board for a few years, and was very active in obtaining sponsorships. Even after she left the board she was our go-to person for sponsorship guidance; she was excellent at that," Whatley said. "She was very interested in all aspects of supporting the theater. During her time on the board she was very helpful in bringing in new ideas, having lived in bigger cities than Aiken. It's unusual for someone who isn't interested in the acting side to take this organization so much to heart." Most said they will remember Krippner for her warmth and friendship. "She and Henry are such kind and wonderful people, you automatically became friends with them in addition to your business connections," said Cloud. "My wife Tonya and I consider her and Henry close friends," said Sheriff Michael Hunt. "They supported us the first time we ran for Sheriff, and we became close from there. She continually made a difference in our lives, and we'll miss her." The family plans to hold a memorial service Tuesday at South Aiken Presbyterian Church, according to Ray Visotski of George Funeral Home. Memorial contributions in Krippner's honor may be directed to the Aiken Area Council on Aging. Contact Suzanne Stone at sstone@aikenstandard.com.