Father Ray Ruppenkamp’s nearly 65-year career as a priest serving the Diocese of Davenport came to an end a week ago Monday. He died peacefully after a short and therefore blessed terminal illness. The month of May would have been a goal for him to accomplish 89 years of age and 65 years as a priest.
If my math is correct, born as one of nine, Fr. Ray was the only boy with eight sisters as siblings. He was preceded in death by six sisters and survived by two.
Growing up in West Branch where he finished his high school education, he could look back today on the myriad changes that affected his history.
St. Patrick grade school, which he attended, no longer exists and a new West Branch High School was not the one he attended. Among his assignments of pastoral ministry, his first parish of St. Joseph in Fort Madison has been long closed. East Pleasant Plain, where he served as an assistant, no longer has a resident pastor. The Washington parish has a different church building, school and rectory. St. Mary church in Clinton no longer exists and neither does the parish of St. Boniface. Clinton now has one parish, Prince of Peace.
The pastor of the Camanche church now lives in LeClaire. Big Rock church is no more and St. James of Toronto is now in a cluster with three parishes. After 25 years, Fr. Ray found his ministerial niche back in Clinton. Here, for 21 years he served in a chaplaincy ministry for the Sisters of St. Francis at Mount St. Clare and for the residents of The Alverno.
Fr. Ray was not one who was out to make a great mark for himself or his ministry. As a matter of fact he was one whose presence at events, or lack of same, was never noticed. His stay in those early assignments was short. Nonetheless, his quiet manner of gentle concern for those he served was a touch of love that left a deep impression.
The final decades of his life seemed to be an escape to what might be called a search for a more contemplative life. Whatever, he was impressive in his peace of mind. Would that we could all find that in the retirement time we are given. May we be ever grateful for your faithful service, Fr. Ray.
— Msgr. Francis Henricksen.
Fr. Ruppenkamp’s obituary
Father Raymond Ruppenkamp, 88, a retired priest of the Diocese of Davenport, died Feb. 23 at The Alverno in Clinton.
He was born May 12, 1926, in Iowa City, the son of Wilbur and Catherine (Burns) Ruppenkamp. He was raised in West Branch, attended St. Patrick Catholic School in Iowa City and West Branch schools.
He attended Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, and St. Ambrose College in Davenport. He completed his theology studies at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, Mo. On May 6, 1950, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Ralph Hayes at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.
Fr. Ruppenkamp served as an assistant at St. Joseph Parish in Fort Madison from 1950-51, St. Joseph Parish in East Pleasant Plain from 1951-53, St. James Parish in Washington in 1953 and St. Mary Parish in Clinton from 1953-69. He served as pastor of Church of the Visitation in Camanche from 1969-70. After a leave of absence for studies, he was temporary administrator, then pastor, at St. Patrick Parish in Big Rock and St. James Parish in Toronto from 1971-73. Fr. Ruppenkamp was a part-time associate pastor at St. Boniface in Clinton and worked for the Alcohol & Drug Guidance Commission in Clinton County from 1973-75. He went on to become chaplain at Mount St. Clare Convent in Clinton and The Alverno for 21 years. He retired in 1996.
A funeral Mass was held Feb. 28 at Jesus Christ Prince of Peace Catholic Church, Clinton. Burial was at St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Memorials should be directed to Prince of Peace Building Fund.