Couple killed in California wildfire wed 75 years; graduated fro - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Couple killed in California wildfire wed 75 years; graduated from UW-Madison

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Courtesy: Mike Rippey Courtesy: Mike Rippey

UPDATE (WKOW) -- An elderly couple originally from Wisconsin are among the more than a dozen people dead from the California wildfires.

100-year-old Charles Rippey and his 98-year-old wife, Sara, had been married for 75 years.

According to their son Mike Rippey, they met in grade school and both attended the University of Wisconsin. They married in 1942 before Charles left to serve in the US Army during World War II.

Years later, the couple eventually moved to Napa County, California where they lived for decades.

Tragically this past week, they died together as the wildfires engulfed their home in flames. 

"My father was sleeping in a different room and we found him halfway to her room and so he never made it," said Mike Rippey, the couple's son. "There was no way he was going to leave her."

Rippey said his parents lived a long life and were happy right up until the last minute.


(CNN) - The Tubbs fire in northern California claimed the lives of a couple who had ties to Wisconsin.

Charles Rippey, 100, and Sara Rippey, 98, died in the early hours of the firestorm.

Their son, Mike, said their house was one of the first in the subdivision to catch fire. The flames incinerated the home. The only thing left relatively untouched was the mailbox. 

Mike said his parents had recently celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary.

"We often talked among each other about how either one of them would deal with life without the other. And we always - we were definitely not looking forward to the day the first one would die and the other one would have to go on alone. Especially, my father. He just - he loved my mother. And he called her the queen, right up until, right up until the end," Mike said. "We can see by where they found his body, that he was trying to get from his room to her room. He never made it. And even if he had gotten there, and couldn't get her out - she just couldn't move well at all. And there's no way he would have left."

Mike said his parent's love affair began in grade school in a small Wisconsin town. He said they started a family after his father returned from fighting in World War I. They raised five kids and eventually retired in the Bay Area.

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