Rep. Rippy’s son dies on Christmas
On a morning when families across the country were celebrating the magic of Christmas, the family of state Rep. Gregg Rippy awoke to the unimaginable Wednesday.Rippy found his 22-year-old son, Stuart, dead in bed, apparently the victim of a seizure. Stuart Rippy has suffered from grand mal seizures for about a decade.”It’s obviously a devastating day for us, but it’s also been just a wonderful day in just the stream of his friends that have come to comfort us,” Rippy, R-Glenwood Springs, said Wednesday evening.Garfield County sheriff’s public information officer Ron VanMeter confirmed that Stuart appeared to have died of natural causes related to previous medical problems. Garfield County coroner’s officials declined to make a statement on the death Wednesday.Rippy said he believes an autopsy probably won’t take place, given Stuart’s medical history. Stuart also is survived by his mother, Marilee, his older brother, Dallas, and his younger sister, Brandy. Rippy described the family as “extremely close,” and said that all were home for the holidays when Stuart died.Asked about the difficulty of losing a child on Christmas, Rippy said, “All the people that have come by today have helped us get through today. That’s one thing about Glenwood. It’s just an incredible community.”Our friends helped hold us up through today. It’s from here on out that’s going to be tough.”As Rippy coped with the shock of his loss, he also took comfort in the fond memories of his son. He thought back to Christmas Eve, when he picked Stuart up from his job at the Sunlight Mountain Ski & Bike Shop and took him to dinner with friends.”He was just so happy, and he had that smile that would make anybody melt,” Rippy said.”I think he was one of those rare individuals that could make anybody feel at ease, male or female, old or young.”Stuart suffered from a seizure disorder that doctors said wasn’t linked to epilepsy, Rippy said. Episodes always occurred while he slept, and never kept him from an athletic life.He played soccer for Glenwood Springs High School, and was named the school’s player of the year in 1997. He also competed in skiing for a number of years.”He was quite accomplished and did well in the ski racing,” Rippy said.More recently, he had taken up rugby and hockey. This fall, he played for the Metro State College rugby team.While at school, Stuart lived with his father, who maintains living quarters in the Denver area due to his work at the state Capitol.Rippy said Stuart studied civil engineering, even though academics did not come naturally to him.”Calculus was his nemesis,” his father said. He said Stuart was on medication for his seizures, and they were believed to be fairly well under control. Doctors had said they were most likely not life-threatening, but had the potential to be.”He just had one last night that, we don’t really know exactly whether it was the seizure that killed him, or he may have suffocated.”Normally his family would hear it when an episode occurred, but they didn’t last night, Rippy said. By the time he found his son, he had been dead for some time.The family, and Stuart, always were aware of the possibility that his condition might claim him someday.”We thought about it, and he thought about it, and I tell you, he lived life hard every day.”Rippy said his son had a message on cell phone readout: “carpe diem,” or seize the day.”That’s the way he looked at it. I think he knew that (his life) was a little bit more fragile than probably we did.”This summer, Stuart climbed some of Colorado’s Fourteeners. He also spent five weeks in Europe, on a trip that his family is thankful that he was able to take while he had the chance.By Wednesday evening, the Rippys hadn’t brought themselves to open gifts Stuart had left for them under the tree. However, his father did open one on the kitchen table. It was a pair of driving gloves, and Rippy seemed to equally cherish his son’s handwriting on the package.Stuart’s mother was left with her own final cherished memories of her son.Said Rippy, “The last thing he did last night was hug Marilee and say, `I love you so much, Mom.’ Those were his last words.”Rippy said memorial services had not been finalized as of Wednesday evening. They are tentatively set for Monday at Mountain View Church in Glenwood Springs.Stuart Rippy’s death is the second in what has been a difficult 2002 for the extended Rippy family.In May, 2-year-old Miles Grant Rippy II, the son of Jeremy and Corrie Rippy of Silt, died in a drowning accident after he fell into an irrigation ditch. On June 8, Gregg and Marilee Rippy were evacuated when the Coal Seam Fire burned within feet of their home on Creekside Court near Mitchell Creek. But the home was spared.
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