Emil Joseph Ripley, 91, a long-time resident of Pulaski and Krakow, died at home September 14, surrounded by his loving family.
Emil was born October 4, 1930, in the Town of Lena, one of six children born to Emil and Anna Ripley. His parents ran a cheese factory, resulting in a love for Wisconsin cheese that he passed down to his own nine children. At Casco High School, he was a strong student, skilled basketball player, and prom king. On October 4, 1950, he married the love of his life, LaVerne Mae Ullman. Over the years, he teased that he married on his birthday so he’d never forget their anniversary.
After a brief stint at Fort Howard Paper Mill in Green Bay, Emil enrolled in teacher’s college in Algoma. In 1954, he began teaching in the Pulaski School District where, for the next 33 years, his second home was the classroom. He taught eighth grade until teachers specialized. Then, he focused on making math accessible to middle-school students.
A frequent recipient of Teacher of the Year honors, Emil’s children still hear from former students that Mr. Ripley’s practicality and compassion changed their lives. One year he had students collect one million bottle caps to gain an appreciation for the vastness of that number. To make percentage gains and losses come alive, he asked students to choose and monitor a stock on the Exchange. He established a math store that students helped run, and with the proceeds, bought the school’s first computer. Emil closed out his career coordinating adult education for Pulaski Area Community Education (PACE) until his retirement in 1993.
To supplement his teacher’s salary, Emil coached, drove school bus, prepared taxes and ran Ripley’s Aquarium. For several summers, he returned to work at the paper mill and took summer courses until he completed his Master’s Degree “plus.” He was active in the Holy Name Society, Knights of Columbus, Optimists Club, and Krakow’s St. Casimir Church. Once fully retired, he and LaVerne traveled the world, including favorite trips to the Holy Land, Africa, Rome, the Amazon, and Japan. The couple was inseparable, holding hands until LaVerne’s death March 14, 2020.
Emil and LaVerne taught their children the value of education, hard work and community. All went on to successful careers as entrepreneurs, business leaders, and managers. They also inherited Emil’s love for athletics, especially basketball. They could be found in the stands or on the court for teams at Glenbrook, Pulaski High School, and the University of Wisconsin System including Green Bay, Madison and Platteville.
Emil is survived by his children Russ (Michele), Rebecca (Ted Ringger), Rob (Eileen), Ron (Doreen), Renee (Randy Grygiel), Rick (Cathy), Rod, Rock (Michele), and Roger (Jeni); 17 grandchildren: Wess, Justin, Ron, Brandon, Jerad, Jamie (Bratz), Amanda (Gates), Sean, Andy (Kolinski), Kyle, Jeremy, Zach, Rev. Kevin, Hailie (Rivera), Jake (Kolinski), Sydney and Madison; three step-grandchildren: Eric Timm and Forrest and Mason Grygiel; and 18 great-grandchildren: Jordan, Jackson, Jonas, Tyler, Emilia, Dawson, Asher, Eve, Cora, Lucy, Stella, Nola, Tilly, Saylor, Sadie, Joseph, Judah and John; sisters-in-law Myrtle Ripley, Vi Smithwick, Carol (and Aaron) Naze, Darlene Stoller; brothers-in-law Randy and Gale (and Rita) Ullman; and many loving nieces, nephews and friends.
Emil was preceded in death by his wife and parents, in-laws Walter and Leah Ullman; brother Bob; sisters and their husbands: Mary Jane (John) Gigot, Annamae (Eddie) Jeanquart, Gerry (Mel) Fameree, Audrey (Roger) Gustke; brothers-in-law Bob Ullman (Collette), Richard Smithwick and Joe Stoller; sisters-in-law Diane Shinnick and Bonnie Luedtke (Leonard).
Both the wake and Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Assumption BVM Catholic Church in Pulaski. Emil’s grandson, the Rev. Kevin Ripley, will officiate. Friends and family can pay their respects on Thursday, September 22, from 4-7 followed by a prayer service. Additional visitation will be held from 9-11 Friday morning, immediately followed by Mass and lunch. Burial will take place in the Krakow cemetery Friday afternoon.
The Funeral Mass will be livestreamed on the parish Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Assumption-BVM-St-Stanislaus-St-Casimir-Parish-Family-89119956934
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Emil and LaVerne Ripley Scholarship Fund. Checks made out to the Pulaski Community Education Foundation may be given to any of Emil’s nine children or left at Marnocha Funeral Home. Please note in the memo line: Emil and LaVerne Ripley Scholarship Fund.
The family would like to extend special thanks to Kyle, Karisa and Joseph Ripley who opened their home and hearts to “Grandpa” for the past two years, and to the compassionate team at Unity Hospice. All were Emil’s angels.