I cannot say when I first met Rip. But, I do know that I was quite aware that he was important to our community. I believe that Rip was involved in one of our more prominent funerals, Marcy Marcell. I remember him clearly standing near the center aisle dressed in white and joyously singing our songs. I remember Rip as one who embraced and enjoyed life.
Rip and I got to know each other because Rip wanted to help our community. So, with his encouragement this column was begun. It is a testimony to Rip that he wanted a column that sought some way to impart heart, caring, and faith to a community that, at times, seems to seek it but not find it. So, “A Community within Communities” was started.
Some of you may know that St. Anna’s Church is a Sanctuary Church not just for immigrants seeking safety from Trump but also a safe place for all people. I think and I know that Rip appreciated that. He was a man of faith, though you might not believe it, he was. With some sort of wit and a bit on longing he would with joy tell people that he was married at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. And so he was. While it was a bit of a clandestine operation I suspect that Rip needed to be on holy ground for that. His faithful companion and partner Marsha was cherished by him and so, he needed holy ground to make his marriage the sacred act that it was.
Whenever St. Anna’s was raising money for the Dodwell House Community Center Rip was sure to give us a PSA and deeply discounted advertising. Rip believed in improving the lives of our children and this whole community. Rip thought and loved BIG.
I had the privilege of being invited to the Ambush Mansion for his parties on a few occasions. It was filled with fellowship a good gumbo and good friends. Vicki and I enjoyed ourselves and always met someone who made us feel welcomed. That is Rip and Marsha.
I say Rip and Marsha because I cannot imagine them apart and so I do not expect that even now they are apart rather they are together a complete “set.” While Rip is watching over the community he is and always will be a part of Marsha and Marsha a part of Rip.
You see my friends, there is more than this. There is life in all of its grandeur and challenges. There is heartache and heart throbs. There is sadness and joy. There is life and death but for many of us death is a time of transition not finality. I believe this is true with not only Rip but with Marcy Marcell and all of the others who have gone before us. It is the hope and belief that there is purpose and meaning to our lives. We are hardened by our experiences and we are elevated by the capacity to love.
So it goes, Rip gave generously when he could, Marcy brought joy and mentored as she could, Elizabeth Bouvier, Princess Stephanie, and others give as they can and the litany goes on and on with this Community that is within the larger Community. So many do so much for the fabric that is our lives.
Often this giving is hidden, like several taverns that collect food for the hungry, collect toys for children in need, donate of their inventory for assisting community work. I have had the privilege and blessing to bear witness to all of the fund raisers and community works that go toward helping others within the LGBTQ community. Can we imagine if the whole country behaved like our community in giving and wanting only to love and to have some fun? Can you imagine?!
And so, a man who kept us up with what was going on; a man who loved and had fun; a man who cared; a man who had a deep faith is waiting for us to join him and in the meantime we remember fondly our friend Rip.
May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace and may light perpetual shine upon them. You go girl!