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Randall B. Ripley


Randall Butler “Rip” Ripley, January 24, 1938 — October 8, 2021, born in Des Moines, Iowa, only child of Henry Dayton Ripley and Aletha (Butler) Ripley, “Rip,” died from complications of Parkinson’s Disease.

Rip graduated from DePauw University in Indiana (1955-59) and moved to Harvard, where he earned a Master’s degree and a PhD (1961, 1963) specializing in American government institutions and policy. Rip began a 50-year career at The Ohio State University in 1967 in the Department of Political Science. He served as Chairperson of the Department for 22 years and later was Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences for 12 years. He taught numerous graduate and undergraduate courses in American politics and instituted coursework in Canadian politics, while also publishing numerous books and journal articles. He received the University’s Distinguished Service Award in 2011, and retired from the University in 2017.

Rip was an avid fan of railroads, classical music, opera, live productions of Shakespeare’s plays, and riding his beloved trail horse Zephyr. He was a voracious reader of world history and literature.  He served on the Board of Governors of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario Canada, the Pataskala Planning and Zoning Commission, and the Licking Land Trust.

He is survived by his spouse, Grace Franklin; son, Frederick J. Ripley; daughter, Vanessa Gail Ripley; and first wife, Vivian U. Ripley.

Due to COVID there will be no calling hours or services at this time. A memorial service will take place at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, PO Box 520 Stratford, ON N5A 6V2, or to the OSU Political Science Department, 2140 Derby Hall, 154 North Oval Mall Columbus, OH 43210. OSU maintains a fund in Rip’s name, for graduate students studying American and or Canadian Politics.

To send an online condolence to the family, please visit: www.OhioCremation.org

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  • Clark Larsen says:

    Rip was an important person in my life and someone who led me in directions that I could never have anticipated prior to my arrival at Ohio State. Rip’s sense of commitment made him a great leader and a valued colleague.

    With my condolences and sympathy to Rip’s family as we all remember him.

    Clark Larsen

  • Melodee Kornacker says:

    May his memory be for a blessing.

  • Janet Box-Steffensmeier says:

    The world lost a great person, political scientist, and administrator. He built the foundation for the department I have been so proud to be a part of for my entire career. He was such an inspiring person to me. He was an amazing congressional scholar, which I have always aspired to be. When I became Dean for the social sciences, I relied on his advice. He pursued the highest quality scholarship, strove for diversity, and knew how to make clear, decisive directions. The kind of leader we all want to follow.
    It feels like yesterday when I got a call from THE Dean Randall Ripley at my apartment in Austin, Texas, urging me to come to The Ohio State University. It took no urging.

  • Toby L Parcel says:

    I am grateful to Rip for giving me the chance to develop as an academic administrator and for steadfast support in the ten years we worked together directly. He had terrific values and a strong sense of bureaucratic strategy. His work was grounded in excellence and guided by the importance of making choices among worthy but competing investment alternatives. He also had a terrific sense of humor that made work fun. I am wishing his famiily comfort in knowing all the ways he contributed to his discipline as well as to both academic and broader communities.

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