Born Jill and Gwen Lippse, these twin sisters were built-in best friends from the start. Growing up, the two shared everything – clothes, bedrooms, their first car – and they attended the same schools, eventually graduating with degrees from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Although marriage, and later a big move, separated Jill and Gwen, the sisters’ bond has never wavered. These days, they live three miles apart and make time for daily chats, weekend dinners, and walks with their dogs. Here, the twins tell all on their unique connection and unconditional love for each other.
Photography by Lanewood Studio
HS: How has your relationship changed through the years?
JB: We, along with our younger sister, Hilda, were inseparable as children. We even had our own secret language! Then Gwen got married at 23, and I remember coming home from the wedding and feeling like my right arm had been cut off. A little later, she moved away with her family for 25 years.
GG: While I was away, we talked all the time; our husbands would hide the phones from us [laughs]. Since I’ve moved back, our relationship has come full circle. We really needed each other in our 50s – there’s been a lot of hardship, including losing both our parents – so it’s been great to have someone to lean on. I still call Jill every day, and I’ll go see her at work.
HS: Do you have a favorite twin story?
GG: Well, there was the time we sent our grandmother the same Hallmark birthday card in the mail. At that point, we lived in different states and shopped at different stores, but we both picked out the same card!
JB: I remember back in high school, I had the biggest crush on a guy who had a locker next to Gwen’s. He thought her name was Jill, so one day he calls our house and asks for Jill, wanting to take her to the school dance. I was so excited and of course went with him. Two years later, he tells me he thought he was asking Gwen out [laughs].
HS: What is something you’ve learned from each other?
GG: Jill taught me how to make proper sweet tea and cornbread. I didn’t do a lot of cooking in early adulthood, so when I moved back to Chattanooga, I needed to learn the ins and out of Southern cooking. Jill puts a lot of thought into everything she does, which I really admire.
JB: Gwen is always encouraging me to speak my mind. My personality tends to be more reserved, but Gwen reminds me to speak up for myself and not worry what other people might think.
HS: How would you describe your approach to wellness?
JB: We’re both really big on fitness, which we got from our dad. We each have workout equipment at home and try to do a mix of cardio and light weights five times a week. And this past year, I’ve started doing meditation, which I find relieves a lot of my anxiety – it’s been a very good thing.
GG: Our dogs are also very active, and they get several walks a day. They’re spoiled! HS