Thanks, Rupe

Posted by Staff Writer Eric Branch:
In Monday’s Letters to the Editor, Petaluma football coach Steve Ellison contributed a heartfelt appreciation for the PD’s Rich Rupprecht, who retired two weeks ago after 31 years at the paper. (To read it click here. It’s the fifth letter down).
After reading Ellison’s letter, I was struck by what a classy thing it was for him to do. Moments later, I was also struck by this: I was Rupe’s colleague. And the guy taking over his high school beat, at least for the moment. Why haven’t I done something similar?
Well, being busy has something to do with it. And being self-absorbed explains the rest.
But here it goes: For nearly four years, I sat across from Rupe in an adjoining cubicle. As someone who first arrived in Sonoma County in 2006, this gave me the opportunity to ask him endless questions. And he almost always had an answer. Or knew where to find one.

“Hey, Rupe, who was the football coach at Lower Lake before Stan Weiper?” Or “Hey, Rupe, who is the Analy girls’ tennis coach this year?” Or “Hey, Rupe, what year did Maria Carrillo open?” (By the way, as a walking baseball almanac — he covered MLB before preps — he can also tell you what year Dick Groat retired, what number Tris Speaker wore and the name of Wade Boggs’ former mistress).
Anyway, Rupe endured hundreds of my questions. Probably more. But he not only had an encyclopedic knowledge of Empire sports, he always had time to help out. Whether it was providing a bit of Empire minutiae, offering a story idea or providing insight into one of the local sports personalities.
What I’m getting at is this: He was gracious. And kind. And supportive. And incredibly influential in helping me navigate this new territory. As colleagues, our relationship was one-sided. I asked questions. And he dispensed information. And he never seemed to mind.
It’s possible, I suppose, that he decided to retire one day after I’d pestered him again for information. I’d like to ask him if that’s true.
And I wish he was still here. That’s just one of many questions I need him to answer.