In Loving Memory: Chip Kushner

Chip Kushner, Customer Service Manager for Smokingpipes, died this morning in his home in Conway, SC. He was 53. His passing was a surprise. He was discovered this morning sitting in his chair in his bedroom by his roommate, colleague and friend, Nick Shane. While we don't yet have cause of death from the coroner's office, we believe he suffered a heart attack.

I was first introduced to Chip by pipe maker Jeff Gracik at the Chicago Pipe Show in 2009, which was Chip's first serious foray into the wider pipe community. He'd been a longtime cigar smoker and collector when Jeff met him through Captain Hunt's Tobacconist in San Diego. Chip was curious about this whole pipe thing and Jeff sat him down, handed him a Poul Ilsted pipe and tobacco and walked him through his first pipe smoking experience.

To say that Chip fell in love with the world of pipes and pipe tobacco is something of an understatement. By the time I first visited his home in San Diego in 2011, he'd amassed a remarkable collection of pipes and an even more staggering cellar of pipe tobacco. He became an early, ardent proponent of the new wave of American pipe makers, ranging from Jeff Gracik and Brad Pohlmann, who had been active for years, to the newer (at that time) guys like Ernie Markle and Steve Liskey. Shane Ireland first met him in San Diego in 2010 through the San Diego Pipe Club, of which Chip later became President. Indeed, Chip took Shane to his first pipe show, the West Coast Show in November of that year. In 2013, he traveled with Jeff Gracik to China and Japan to visit shops in Shanghai and to attend the All Japan Smoking Competition held in October of that year.

By 2012 or 2013, Chip was well known as an ardent collector and vocal proponent of artisan pipe making, particularly American artisan pipe making. He advised up-and-coming American pipe makers, he organized club events, and he was a perennial fixture at the Chicago, Richmond and West Coast Pipe Shows. He practiced law in San Diego, but his life centered on his hobby and his friends — pipe makers, industry people, and fellow collectors alike — from that hobby.

In early 2015, Chip took the next step into the world of pipes, closing his law practice in San Diego and moving across the country to work at Smokingpipes. He was pipe mentor or customer service mentor to so many at the company in the past four years. He was particularly open and generous with newcomers to the company, folding them into his life, showing them the ropes and sharing his love for pipes and pipe tobacco. Almost everyone who has joined the company in either the Customer Service or Merchandizing departments in the past few years credits Chip with early friendship and guidance as they were introduced to the pipe world and the company, whether they were colleagues like Kaz Walters or on his team, like Nick Shane, who was later also his roommate.

As a connoisseur of many fine things — ranging from pipes and tobacco to scotch to food — and being a particularly gregarious sort, he rather collected folks at the company, enthusiastically sharing his passion for pipes in the office, at a local tobacconist shop (either Low Country Pipe & Cigar or the Tinderbox that was a little closer to his home), or in his home. He hosted annual Chanukah and Seder dinners at his home, inviting both his Jewish and non-Jewish colleagues and friends.

Chip never married or had children. He was an only child. He built a life and a community for himself from the friends he made through pipe smoking. His pipe smoking friends — and especially his friends and colleagues at Smokingpipes and Laudisi — filled that part of his life. Even more so than most of us at the company, Chip ensconced himself in this community.

Mostly we remember him for his participation in that community, both at Laudisi and in the wider pipe world. We remember him for his conviviality. For his kindness and generosity. For his friendship. For his enduring, deep enthusiasm for our shared hobby.

Category:   Pipe Line
Tagged in:   Broken Pipe


    • Neill Archer Roan on December 17, 2018
    • Thanks for this wonderful post about Chip. His friendship was treasured by those of us who were blessed to know him. He was one-of-a-kind. RIP Chip.

    • Gene Bowker on December 17, 2018
    • Wow, so sorry to hear this. I met Chip at the Raleigh show this year. Can't believe it.

    • Brian Silverman on December 17, 2018
    • His warmth, good nature, mischievous smile and and the sparkle in his eyes was palpable. I can almost feel him leaning toward me waiting to see if I got the joke, the yiddish expression, the subtlety of an opinion, or notice I needed to freshen his drink before it might have to be indelicately brought to my attention.
      His absence will be keenly felt in St. Charles this and every year.

    • Daryl Lovelace on December 17, 2018
    • A pipe is raised to Chip.😥

    • Tom Pfaeffle on December 17, 2018
    • I always enjoyed chatting with Chip at the West Coast and Chicago shows. My condolences to the Laudisi family.

    • Stan Ruszkowski on December 17, 2018
    • A gentleman and a gentle man.

    • Gregory Pease on December 17, 2018
    • A lovely tribute, but one I am deeply saddened to read. I raise my pipe in honor of Chip's memory and to his indelible spirit. May whatever journey lies ahead be as sweet as the kindness he showed so many in this world. My condolences and best thoughts are with his friends and family.

    • Ryan Gallant on December 17, 2018
    • My sincere condolences.

    • Andrew Leach on December 17, 2018
    • Shocking and sad.

      My heartfelt condolences to family, friends and co-workers.

    • Ted aka Lonecoyote on December 17, 2018
    • I’m shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Chip. He definitely was one of a kind. Any time I bumped into a new pipe smoker first thing I’d recommend is “ call Chip from Smokingpipes “ he will set you up with a sampler of tobacco’s after asking you a few questions. Also give you a great deal on a new or Estate pipe. Chip was not only knowledgeable when it came to pipes and tobacco’s, he would make sure you felt right at home when doing business with Smokingpipes.
      REST IN PEACE Chip for all Eternity

    • Dean on December 17, 2018
    • Chip was a reformed lawyer, a pipe smoker, and a good-natured soul. I respect all of those things, and raise my pipe in honor of him today.

    • Silver on December 17, 2018
    • Beautiful tribute to a beautiful man... whenever I smoke a stoggie, it will be in his honor. He bought several of my pipes when I was a new carver - then later, he bought sister bulldogs, among others. He was sooo good at supporting American carvers. He was also good at making, and keeping, friendships. He leaves a huge hole in the community, and most especially, in our hearts... ❤️

    • Sherman Luxenburg on December 17, 2018
    • A friendly, warm, and always-ready-to-help kind-of-person! Just unbelievable.

    • Chris from San Diego on December 17, 2018
    • I met him once at Liberty Cigar. He gave me a business card for the San Diego Pipe Club and I never saw him there again. Nice guy. Condolences.

    • Alex from Seattle on December 17, 2018
    • He was very gracious with his time and knowledgeable. Will be missed by his loved ones and the community!

    • Marco Kool on December 17, 2018
    • My sincere condolences.

    • Joe Pelej on December 18, 2018
    • I'm stunned and profoundly saddened to learn of Chip's passing. He graciously welcomed me to The San Diego Pipe Club years ago and made the experience a real joy through his warmth, sly sense of humor, and unwavering pipeman presence. It was always a pleasure to connect with him occasionally in his capacity there at Smokingpipes, where he never hesitated to to do his utmost to help, and I will miss him greatly. My sincerest condolences to all.

    • Rob Cappuccio on December 18, 2018
    • Terribly sad news... so young...
      I never met him in person, but could tell from correspondence - and accounts from others - that he was a good, honorable and passionate man. That in itself is a valuable legacy that he left behind.
      May his pipe always be full, ember lit and rest in peace.

    • Carl Staudenmyer on December 18, 2018
    • Sikes thank you for enlightening us regarding Chip. I considered Chip a friend, always enjoyed our conversations at the shows.
      I for one will miss him😌

    • Pete Prevost on December 18, 2018
    • Wonderful tribute. I’m going to miss Chip.

    • Linwood on December 18, 2018
    • His smile will be missed.
      Godspeed good man.

    • Linwood on December 18, 2018
    • His smile will be missed.
      Godspeed good man.

    • Louis F. Carbone on December 18, 2018
    • While I never formally met Chip, I without a doubt recall bumping into him frequently at the Chicago Pipe Shows. How sad and tragic is this news. 2018 was not a kind year to our pipe smoking brothers & sisters as too many of our cherished friends are no longer with us. Let’s cherish their memories with each bowl we light and keep them close to our hearts.
      On behalf of the entire NY Pipe Club, I extend our deepest condolences to Chip’s family and friends.

      Lou Carbone
      Pres., NY Pipe Club

    • Joerg Wittkamp on December 18, 2018
    • unbelievable and so sad.....

      Rest in peace, my friend.
      I'm sure, that you will make heaven an even better place.

      All my best to your family,


    • David Baker on December 18, 2018
    • I met Chip at Captain Hunts Tobacconist in San Diego in 2009 where he introduced me to the world of pipes. During my three year Navy tour in San Diego we became very close and the last two years I was even his roommate. When I retired in 2012 and returned home to Virginia it was a sad farewell. We stayed very close since them and when he joined smokingpipes I was able to visit him several times a year. It is with heavy heart that I have to say goodbye. Not just to a really good friend but also to a truly wholesome soul. His love of pipes was only a fraction of what he gave back to the world. I will miss him every day.

    • James H on December 18, 2018
    • I am really bummed to hear this. My sincere condolences to his friends and family. I thoroughly enjoyed his parts in all of your guy videos and especially his ''side glances'' at his counterparts on the mystery blends and carver spotlights. He seemed like a really neat guy.

    • Stephen on December 19, 2018

    • “A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others” RIP Chip Kushner

    • John Rinaldi on December 19, 2018
    • I didn’t know Chip, but clearly he was loved by all. I wish I’d had the pleasure of meeting him. I send my sincere condolences to his friends, family and colleagues.

    • Rob K on December 19, 2018
    • I am fairly new to SP, and saw Chip in a few of the videos. I never knew of his history in the pipe and cigar world.
      My condolences to the crew there at Smoking Pipes and friends.

    • Wolfgang Becker on December 19, 2018
    • So sad ! We did not know him very well, but when ever we met him he was on very good mind an such a positive person. Gitta and I will miss him in St.Charles.

    • Robert A Shaw on December 19, 2018
    • R.I.P. Chip

    • Lester w Young on December 19, 2018
    • Chip was a real friend to many, including me. I first met him through my Morley's pals and found him to be a serious collector of pipes and leaf. I never forgave him for beating me to a couple of tins of Holly's Discovery. When he graced us with several visits to Morley's, he always brought goodies from C&D and wowed us with his fabulous pipes. I would drive him home to his cousin's place on South Street, not just to spare him unwanted interactions with the natives roaming the streets but to capture a few more moments of time with him. His passing was a shock and we will all miss him. R.I.P. Chip.

    • Fred J Neslage Jr on December 20, 2018
    • Chip was a friend I never met in person. He coached and talked me through the purchase of over 50 pipes. In my 77 years, I never met a more gracious, kind and giving gentleman. Rest in peace my friend.

    • Jerry Campbell on December 20, 2018
    • Though I regret never meeting you, we would talk often whenI would be ordering a pipe and or tobacco. You were a wonderful warm,kind person. The world lost a treasure! God Bless and may You Rest In Peace Always and Ever, Good Friend.

    • Phil Morgan on December 20, 2018
    • Did not know Chip well, but was always glad to see him and chat. He was an interesting person, which made me want to get to know him better. My condolences to his friends and co-workers at

    • Jim Gormley on December 20, 2018
    • I am saddened to hear about Chip's passing. I had many pleasant conversations with him at the store. He will be missed...Rest in Peace Chip

    • Joe Graffagnino on December 20, 2018
    • This is such a huge shock. Chip just helped me with a pipe order last Thursday. He was so pleasant ALWAYS. Rest in Peace, Chip.

      Condolences to Chip's family, friends and co-workers at SPC.

    • John A. Contino on December 20, 2018
    • I was very sorry to hear about Chip's demise. I have had the opportunity to meet and talk to him during his visits to Philadelphia. We had the pleasure of his company at the few Christopher Morley Pipe Club meetings he attended. He was a true gentleman. Our thoughts and prayers go with him.

    • Terry Baker on December 20, 2018
    • Chip was one of the first people I met while working at Laudisi. His humor and wit always made my mornings great. He will be truly missed..

    • Joan on December 21, 2018
    • I am Chip's cousin from his family in Philadelphia. What a wonderful tribute to him. We so enjoyed being with us on various Jewish Holidays and happy events. Always interesting and interested in us. Just saw him this past October at a family wedding. His appreciation of family friends good food and pipes and cigars will be remembered.
      RIP friend and cousin. You will be missed. ❤️

    • John on December 21, 2018
    • Very sorry for your loss. Happy holidays.

    • Scott Thile on December 22, 2018
    • Terribly sad for all of us in the pipe community. We have lost Chip so early (too early for us, to be sure) and so unexpectedly... Sad for us, but sitting here smoking a pipe, sipping a cortado, reading this beautiful tribute, and seeing our community grieve another loss, I am also thinking what a blessing it would be to leave this world just like Chip has. He lived fully, touched many lives, and then checked out quickly in his chair. My hope is that he is enjoying a pipe in eternity with some of our dear friends that beat him there.

      I last saw Chip at the Chicago pipe show. He very graciously made me an espresso at the Smokingpipes booth in the middle of the Sunday afternoon craziness. Even while we were all rushing around, wrapping up deals, he was calm, working away happily in work he obviously loved, and doing what he could for the rest of us.

      May we all be remembered as fondly, having found our calling in life.and doing what we can to honor it. Thank you, Chip, for making this world a better place!

    • PETER D FIELD SR on December 22, 2018
    • I new Chip from a deal I was making with Smokingpipes. He truly was a gentleman and will surly be missed by his associates and his customers. I will miss his kind help. Too Young. Chip. Rest In Peace.

    • PETER D FIELD SR on December 22, 2018
    • Rest In Peace Chip.

    • Bryan Webber on December 23, 2018
    • My condolences goes out to the SP family and friends of this man. Loss is always hard. I pray for those who are affected to find the comfort and peace they need.

    • Giacomo James Corrado on December 23, 2018
    • A recurrent name on email exchanges about orders, trades and the occasional mishap. As a fellow lawyer, I find it comforting that Chip chose to devote the last few years of a life he couldn't have known was close to an end, to do what he enjoyed most and made him happy. Rest in Peace, Counsel.

    • Todd Dwyer on December 23, 2018
    • I never met Chip in person. During its inaugural voyage, my brand new $800 Dunhill Bruyere suffered a catastrophic structure fire that burned through the chamber wall and well into the bowl. Nick and Chip were the guys who came to my rescue (via email, no less), like they were my very own insurance agents ("make it new, make it better"). A lawyer would have said "Dude, sucks to be you," but Chip was a fellow piper and naturally came to my defense. Condolences to all who knew and loved him. May he rest his case.

    • Michael Meenan on December 24, 2018
    • Chip was a soulmate, although I never met him. That does happen when a person shares their good soul, unstintingly. Chip's sui generis presence on the site videos always kept me keen to his candid observations. His passing is tragic and makes me mindful of patience and companionship and generosity.

    • Suzan Edwards on December 24, 2018
    • He was one of a kind. He gave to everyone he knew and was always selfless. He was a WONDERFUL friend. We missed him so much when he left San Diego. It is hard to believe he is gone. We loved you Chip and a thousand tears cannot express the loss. Thank you for all the memories dear friend. You will never be forgotten. Flights of Angels...until we met again...

    • Mike Rizzo on December 31, 2018
    • I’m so sad to learn of Chips passing. I always enjoyed when chip made it onto the videos. I just finished watching December’s mystery review with Chip, Kaz, and Shane. I was shocked to see he passed at the end. My deepest condolences to his friends, family, and everyone at

    • Tom Stoup on December 31, 2018
    • My routine of life changed when Chip moved to join Smoking pipes.
      I am, now, 86 and the monthly meetings of The San Diego Pipe Club became an important part of my life.Every Christmas time he hosted a great smoke in dinner at his home.He introduced me to Jeff where I got my J. Alan made while I watched. I am moved. What a guy!

    • John & Pamela Hollars on January 1, 2019
    • My wife & I have both been "under the weather" for the it's P.M. New Years Day, and I finally checked the e-mail....God, Chip! He's been our primary (tho not only) "pusher" assuaging our (o.k., my) P.A.D.for the past couple of years. I can only finish with "SHALOM". You earned it, my friend and you deserve it all. J.S.H.

    • stan on January 3, 2019
    • Just read! I met Chip once at the N.O. Pipe show in 2015. He helped me on a trade for a pipe there. He helped me on other pipe deals at SPC over time. What a helpful soul. A smile beyond his face and as wide as a magnum pipe. RIP.

    • Scott Wright on January 4, 2019
    • Wonderful tribute to a man I never knew until now. So sorry for your loss, although a while ago. Grace & Peace

    • Phil Johnson on January 14, 2019
    • Shalom Chip

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