Services set for former MCO president

October 24, 2012 | News, UToday
By Staff

Calling hours and a service for Dr. Richard D. Ruppert, who played a pivotal role in shaping the Medical College of Ohio during his presidency, have been announced.


Ruppert died Oct. 22 in New Orleans. He was 81.

The family will welcome friends, colleagues and alumni Friday, Oct. 26, from 2 to 8 p.m. at Coyle Funeral Home, 1770 S. Reynolds Road, Toledo.

A celebration of life will be held Saturday, Oct. 27, at 11 a.m. at Christ Presbyterian Church, 4225 W. Sylvania Ave., Toledo.

In 1977, Ruppert became MCO’s third president. During his 16-year tenure, he continued the college’s expansion with more clinical services and patient care, increased biomedical research activities, and additional academic offerings.

Under his leadership, the School of Nursing, the School of Allied Health and the Graduate School were established. And the campus master plan approved by the first MCO Board of Trustees was finished, with construction completed on the $150 million, 270-bed MCO Hospital, the Ida Marie Dowling Hall, the Lenore W. and Marvis S. Kobacker Center, the Eleanor N. Dana Conference Center, the Toledo Hilton, and the Dorothy and Ashel Bryan Academic Commons. Also finished were the Coghlin Pavilion, the Henry L. Morse Sports Center, and an ambulatory care center that was named the Richard D. Ruppert Health Center upon his retirement in 1993.

“Much of MCO’s success can be credited to Richard D. Ruppert,” wrote Dr. Gerald Marsa in a 1993 Toledo Medicine editorial for the Academy of Medicine of Toledo and Lucas County. “From a new college on a divided campus — one part farmland and the other a deteriorating county hospital complex — he provided guidance and the political skills to develop the new campus to its present 10 structures.

“Only six graduating classes preceded Dr. Ruppert’s arrival, whereas today more than 2,000 MCO graduates are practicing physicians throughout the U.S. The school has emerged from its early growing pains to achieve an identity as a quality medical institution during Dr. Ruppert’s tenure, with a large credit due to his leadership and vision.”

Born in Middletown, Ohio, Ruppert worked on the family farm in Franklin, Ohio, five years after graduating from high school before going to Ohio State University, where he received a bachelor of science degree in 1957 and a doctor of medicine in 1961. It was at OSU that he met medical classmate Elizabeth (Libby) Spencer; the two married in 1959.

He completed an internal medicine internship at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago and in 1962 returned to Ohio State, where he was a resident in gastroenterology until 1965 and served as chief resident for one year. For nine years, Ruppert was professor of gastroenterology in the Department of Medicine. In 1970, he was named assistant dean of the College of Medicine and added the title of medical director for patient services in 1972. Ruppert was named OSU Man of the Year in 1970.

In 1974, he became vice chancellor for health affairs at the Ohio Board of Regents. He served in that post until he was named MCO president.

The Toledo and Port Clinton resident also was known for his service to the community. Ruppert was a former member of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority Board from 1989 to 1999 and served as its chair four years; president of the Rotary Club in 2005-06; campaign chair for the United Way of Greater Toledo in 1991-92; member and president of the Ohio Historical Society Board from 2001 to 2011; and member of the Hayes Presidential Center Board from 1996 to 2011.

Since 2002, he was trustee, campaign chair and president of the Fort Meigs Historical Society, and he served as president of the Torch Club in 2012.

His numerous honors include receiving the Jefferson Award for community service in 2009 and being named a Master Fellow by the American College of Physicians in 2007.

Surviving are his wife, Dr. Elizabeth Ruppert; daughters, Victoria Ruppert Ridge, Elizabeth Morgan Ruppert, Rebecca Ruppert McMahon and Julie Ruppert Schulte; sisters, Patricia Talbot, Libby Hannah Wade and Nancy Ruppert; brothers, James Ruppert and Rupert Earl Ruppert; and seven grandchildren.

The family suggests memorials to the Richard and Elizabeth Ruppert Presidential Scholarship Fund through the UT Foundation.

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