Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Melvin Ernest Rippell

May 26, 1941 - August 12, 2023

On Saturday August 12, 2023 Mel peacefully passed away with his wife Mary-Dawn by his side. Born in Vancouver on May 26, 1941 to Gwen and Wilfred Rippell and brother to Cathy Bradshaw.

Mel spent the majority of his life in the North. He taught at Atlin Elementary Junior Secondary School for over 20 years and was the principal the majority of that time. He took great joy in taking students on trips and arranging athletic events and Christmas concerts.

Mel was a bibliophile who was as likely to quote Yogi Berra as he was to quote William Shakespeare. He was also an opera aficionado, pool player, chainsaw gardener, chess enthusiast, freighter canoe captain, and inveterate rambler.

Of all his passions travel may have been his greatest love. In retirement he lived in Kenya for six years. He lived by the adage "I travel not to escape life but for life not to escape me."

A lifelong baseball fan he managed to visit every major league ballpark, travelling by train whenever possible. A loving and supportive grandfather he took great interest in following and attending the tournaments of his grandchildren Zophine, Quaid and Caleb.

Mel took up running when in his 70's while living in Kenya. He entered many races throughout Canada and ran races in Pyongyang and Israel. He was registered and training to run the 8km Royal Victoria Marathon event this October.

He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Mary-Dawn Rippell and his two sons Carlos and Adrian.

Comments (3)

craig on Oct 2, 2023 at 6:02 pm

I have been teaching, then subbing in Dease Lake since 1974. I knew Mel well thru our annual AGM union meetings in Whitehorse. Another oldtimmer lost. Wherever you are Mel, Givvm Hell.

Scott on Sep 20, 2023 at 11:24 am

Mel (or "Mr. Rippell" as I knew him when he was my teacher and school principal in 8th and 9th grade in Atlin) had a really large effect on my life. He got me thinking about the world outside our remote 400-person village.
He taught a music appreciation class where he would have us listen to different kinds of music, including classical and jazz, and we all hated that stuff. But he would sweeten the pot by then letting us play a couple popular rock songs from our favorite bands like Nazareth and April Wine. I remember one time he played a super dissonant modern classical piece that we thought was so awful at the time. But just last winter I attended a concert in Seattle which was four different dissonant pieces - and I loved it.
Outside of school, he introduced me, my brother Kendall, and our friend James to historical board wargames like D-Day and Leipzig. This developed into a lifelong interest in history, geography, and international economics.
Mel and Mary-Dawn were in London, UK traveling in the 90's and tried several times to meet up with me at the YMCA I lived in while completing a Master's in Finance. We never did manage to meet (pre-cellphone times!) and I regret that very much.
I also have great memories of making peanut butter soup and baking powder biscuits in the Home Economics cooking class which was taught by Mary-Dawn and held in the kitchen of their own home in Atlin.
Thank you to Mel and Mary-Dawn for opening my eyes to the world and changing my life.

INGRID on Sep 16, 2023 at 4:48 pm

Mel certainly lived life and possessed the " joie de Vivre "
He could speak on any topic and was always at the ready to Regale and Share his experiences. I always left smiling.
Definitely ranked as part of my Colorful 10 % !!!
My sincere condolences to MaryDawn and her family.

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.