About Us

In December 1950, Julius S. Rippel, known as J.S., died in New Jersey at the age of 82. His obituary described him as “one of the most influential men in Newark’s financial life” and the largest individual owner of bank stocks in America. Having accumulated wealth of nearly $25 million ($235 million in today’s dollars), his will created the Fannie E. Rippel Foundation in honor of his wife who had predeceased him.

Fannie and Julius Rippel

Born in 1868, J.S. Rippel was one of six children born into a family that had come to America from Bavaria following the political disturbances of 1848 in Germany. Mr. Rippel’s father settled in Newark where he ran a woolen goods store. After he was orphaned at age six, Mr. Rippel was raised by his four older sisters and, although he never finished grammar school, he eventually attended Coleman’s Business College.

Mr. Rippel started work in a grocery store at the age of 12, reportedly earning $2.50 a week. As an early indicator of his ambition, he secured a raise to $3.50 with Sundays off after staging a one day strike. He began his financial career with Graham and Company, stockbrokers and steamship agents, in 1887, and started his own firm, J.S. Rippel and Company, in 1891 when he was 23 years old. J.S. Rippel and Company specialized in local investment securities and in New Jersey municipal bonds. Through his preeminence in the municipal bond market, J.S. Rippel and Company eventually financed most of the important cities and towns in New Jersey. By the mid 1920s, his net worth was estimated at $40 million ($545 million in today’s dollars) – almost all of which was lost in the Great Depression of 1929. A determined man, he set out to remake his fortune and had nearly done so by the time of his death. Mr. Rippel remained active as the head of his firm to the day he died.

As his obituary further states, “Of a highly nervous temperament, Mr. Rippel was also one of the ‘nerviest’ men in Newark.” He exerted important influence on the affairs of New Jersey and the region. Many honors were conferred upon him and he served on numerous boards. When he was elected president of the New Jersey Bankers Association in 1933, he assumed official leadership of his profession in the state. As a strong believer in the promise of an America unfettered by governmental intervention, he vigorously defended sound banking principles and the traditional American governmental and economic system.

When Julius S. Rippel was 30 years old, he proposed to Fannie Estelle Traphagen, his former Sunday school teacher from Newark, NJ. Mrs. Rippel is best remembered for her volunteer work for aged women at local hospitals and nursing homes. Among her most favored charities was the Society for the Relief of Respectable Aged Women, where she served as president from 1929 to 1936. Eighteen years older than her husband, Mrs. Rippel died on February 5, 1943. His love and respect for his wife are evident in Mr. Rippel’s’ decision to create and name the Foundation in her honor.