Inseparable for 75 years, husband and wife Charles and Sara Rippey died in the Napa fire

Friday, 13 October 2017, 04:26:41 PM. Charles and Sara Rippey, married for 75 years, died in Napa fire

In his later years, Charles Rippey had lovingly begun to call his wife his queen.

“Here comes the queen,” he used to say, as Sara approached in her wheelchair.

He was 100 and she was 98, and the two had been inseparable since they were children in grade school. This week, both died when a wildfire in Napa engulfed their home.

The couple lived in a nice ranch-style house in the Silverado Resort. It had a deck and a pool and a big hill out back.

In the 1980s, Sara brought her eldest son, Mike, to Westgate Drive and asked him to buy this house for her.

“It’ll be the best investment you’ll ever make,” she told him.

Mike, 71, said his mother was right. This was the place where his parents lived the longest — about 35 years.

The Rippeys grew up in the small town of Hartford, Wis. They went to high school together, to prom, then studied at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Soon after they married in 1942, Charles, better known as “Peach” — a nickname his mother gave him as a child because of his rosy cheeks — went off to war. His deployments took him to North Africa, Italy, France and Germany, leading a company of 200 black soldiers.

When he returned home, he was hired as an engineer at Firestone in Akron, Ohio. The company promoted him over the years and assigned him to posts in distant places, such as Sweden and Argentina.

Sara stayed home and raised five children.

“She used to make us the best eggs,” Mike said. “Each kid liked theirs a different way — scrambled, over medium, poached.”

When Mike moved out to Northern California after college, his siblings and parents eventually followed. This summer, the family gathered to celebrate the Rippeys’ 75th wedding anniversary.

His father doted on his mother, Mike said. He bought her jewelry, took her dancing and told her he could not live without her.

Sara was not as affectionate, but “everywhere he went, she went,” he said.

The night of the fire, the couple were home with their caretaker, Maria. Strong winds made the lights flicker. Maria looked out the back window at some point and saw that the home’s fence was on fire.

She ran to lift Sara out of bed onto her wheelchair. Peach was in the hallway.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

In a matter of minutes, black smoke had filled the entire house.

Maria called out to Peach, but there was no response. Without electricity, she could not open the garage door to get Sara out.

She jumped over a collapsed fence and escaped, just before the roof crashed down.

Mike, who was flying in from London, heard about the fire from relatives. He knew his parents had not survived.

He said the family was struggling with the tragedy, but they also felt a sense of peace.

Sara’s health had severely declined since she suffered a stroke five years ago. Peach never left her side, not even to grab dinner with Mike who visited two to three times a week.

“I can safely say for my father that if he’d gotten out,” Mike said, “there would have been no way to console him.”

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Drone footage reveals the devastation wrought by the deadly Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa. An astounding number of women have shared stories of alleged sexual misconduct by producer Harvey Weinstein. A USC administrator has left his post in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues. President Trump has nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Credits: Associated Press, Travis Geske, Getty, KTLA

Drone footage reveals the devastation wrought by the deadly Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa. An astounding number of women have shared stories of alleged sexual misconduct by producer Harvey Weinstein. A USC administrator has left his post in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues. President Trump has nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Credits: Associated Press, Travis Geske, Getty, KTLA

inseparable-for-75-years-husband-and-wife-charles-and-sara-rippey-died-in-the-napa-fire photo 2 CAPTION

Drone footage reveals the devastation wrought by the deadly Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa. An astounding number of women have shared stories of alleged sexual misconduct by producer Harvey Weinstein. A USC administrator has left his post in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues. President Trump has nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Credits: Associated Press, Travis Geske, Getty, KTLA

Drone footage reveals the devastation wrought by the deadly Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa. An astounding number of women have shared stories of alleged sexual misconduct by producer Harvey Weinstein. A USC administrator has left his post in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues. President Trump has nominated Kirstjen Nielsen, a top aide to Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Credits: Associated Press, Travis Geske, Getty, KTLA

inseparable-for-75-years-husband-and-wife-charles-and-sara-rippey-died-in-the-napa-fire photo 3 CAPTION

Over 160,000 acres have been destroyed in northern California fires.

Over 160,000 acres have been destroyed in northern California fires.

inseparable-for-75-years-husband-and-wife-charles-and-sara-rippey-died-in-the-napa-fire photo 4 CAPTION

The death toll from the Northern California fires has reached 17. A wounded Mandalay Bay security guard warned hotel officials about a gunman before the Las Vegas massacre. Harvey Weinstein is facing more sexual assault and harassment allegations. The FBI’s investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball continues to expand. 

The death toll from the Northern California fires has reached 17. A wounded Mandalay Bay security guard warned hotel officials about a gunman before the Las Vegas massacre. Harvey Weinstein is facing more sexual assault and harassment allegations. The FBI’s investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball continues to expand. 

inseparable-for-75-years-husband-and-wife-charles-and-sara-rippey-died-in-the-napa-fire photo 5 CAPTION

A Northern California firestorm is one of the worst in state history, officials say. The Dodgers are heading to the NLCS after beating the Diamondbacks Monday night. Police have dramatically changed their account of how the Las Vegas massacre began. The Los Angeles Times has named a new editor in chief. 

A Northern California firestorm is one of the worst in state history, officials say. The Dodgers are heading to the NLCS after beating the Diamondbacks Monday night. Police have dramatically changed their account of how the Las Vegas massacre began. The Los Angeles Times has named a new editor in chief. 

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A wind-fed wildfire surged over the Anaheim Hills on Monday, burning several homes and forcing thousands to evacuate as fire crews struggled to battle the rapidly growing blaze.

A wind-fed wildfire surged over the Anaheim Hills on Monday, burning several homes and forcing thousands to evacuate as fire crews struggled to battle the rapidly growing blaze.

esmeralda.bermudez@latimes.com

@LATBermudez

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    Article Inseparable for 75 years, husband and wife Charles and Sara Rippey died in the Napa fire compiled by www.latimes.com