Rippley, LaVern John

LaVern John Rippley died Thursday, January 6, 2022, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minn., at the age of 86. He was born March 2, 1935, at the farm home of Louis G. and Johanna H. (Rucinski) Rippley two miles north of Waumandee, Wis. He attended school at St. Boniface parochial in Waumandee for eight years then was sent to Holy Cross Seminary High School in La Crosse, Wis., completing in 1952. LaVern continued at Holy Cross Seminary College graduating in 1956. He proceeded to enroll at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls to enable him to acquire teacher certification in English, Latin and German. While there LaVern met Barbara Jean Brickner and on August 20, 1960, they married at St Bridget's Catholic Church in River Falls.

Meanwhile LaVern served briefly in the U.S. Army and taught two years at River Falls High School. After earning an M.A. in German at Kent State University, this led to a teaching assistantship at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, where LaVern took coursework for his doctorate. Following the program routine, LaVern studied with the support of a Fulbright Fellowship 1963-1964 at the University in Munich, Germany, returning to Columbus to complete his Ph.D. in 1965. In the meantime he had accepted an appointment as assistant professor of German at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, and a part-time position at the Ohio State University branch in Lima.

In 1967, LaVern was appointed associate professor and chairman of the Department of German at St. Olaf College in Northfield. Promoted to full professor in 1971, LaVern remained active not only in the classroom but in administrative and committee positions during his 50 years of service at the college.

LaVern led some 25 programs for students and teachers to European countries, often Germany, but 12 times on January interim programs encircling the Baltic Sea. As a result he became a keen observer of the East-West struggle through the Cold War and the demise of Communism. In the world of academics, LaVern was president of the Society for German-American Studies and for over 30 years edited its newsletter.

Over the decades, LaVern wrote and published some 18 books as well as 150 articles in scholarly and popular journals, numerous learned presentations at conferences, and over 100 book reviews in varied magazines. His greatest contribution was to the study of immigration (both of people and cultural items) from the German-speaking world. Due to his affection for Old Time music, LaVern wrote a history of the Chemnitzer Concertina, which resulted in his enjoying and joining three concertina clubs in Minnesota. During the course of his academic career LaVern carried on sub-professions, a key activity being real estate, for which he held agent and contractor licenses while owning, building and financing numerous properties. Among them was the Ole Store restaurant in Northfield, Minn., which he fully remodeled from a grocery store and breakfast-lunch joint to a full-blown modern restaurant. Vern also served on the Northfield School Board in the 1970s.

After living a decade with Parkinson's LaVern is survived by his wife, Barbara Jean, of 61 years; his children, John, of Northfield, Larissa, of St. Paul; grandchildren, Naya and Anjali Tadavarthy; sisters, Elsie (Dan) Brommer and Phyllis (John) Sonsalla; and numerous cousins, nephews and nieces. He was proceeded in death by his parents; brother, Charles; and sister, Mary.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. on Monday, January 10, 2022, at the Church of St. Dominic in Northfield. Visitation will be at the church one hour prior to Mass. Masks are required and no lunch will be provided due to COVID concerns. Following the service interment will take place in St. Boniface Cemetery in Waumandee, Wis.

Arrangements are with the Benson & Langehough Funeral Home, www.northfieldfuneral.com.