2017-05-25 / Local News

‘Zip and the Zipsters’ reunite on birthday

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff


BROTHER AND sister LaVern “Zip” Flees and Tillie Garvin played together for the first time in more than 50 years at the Leelanau Sands Showroom on Tuesday, as part of Tillie’s 80th surprise birthday party. BROTHER AND sister LaVern “Zip” Flees and Tillie Garvin played together for the first time in more than 50 years at the Leelanau Sands Showroom on Tuesday, as part of Tillie’s 80th surprise birthday party. Tillie Garvin got a big surprise Tuesday when she walked into the Leelanau Sands Showroom.

Dozens of friends and family had gathered for a surprise party celebrating her 80th birthday. The party was organized by her husband, Tom Meoak.

“I knew he was up to something. He was keeping secrets all week,” she said.

Garvin is the youngest of seven children born to Frank and Elizabeth Flees of Lake Leelanau. She grew up in the unincorporated village of Lake Leelanau and has always lived within an earshot of the bells of St. Mary Church.

“I was born in the house that is now Samaritan’s Closet and I live within a block of that now,” Garvin said.


TILLIE GARVIN smiles as she and her husband Tom Meoak enter a surprise 80th birthday party at the Leelanau Sands Showroom. TILLIE GARVIN smiles as she and her husband Tom Meoak enter a surprise 80th birthday party at the Leelanau Sands Showroom. Friends from as far away as Muskegon made it to the party that coincided with the weekly polka party at the Leelanau Sands.

But it was more than a birthday celebration for Garvin. She and brother Zip Flees of Lake Leelanau and friend, Harold Kilcherman of Northport, joined each other on the stage for the first time in decades. Flees played the concertina, Garvin was on keyboards and Kilcherman kept beat on the drums.

The three played as Zip & the Zipsters and were a fixture at local venues in the 1960s.

“We’re getting calls from people whose wedding we played,” Garvin said. “They want us to play their 50th anniversary.”

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