The Fannie E. Rippel Foundation was established upon the death Julius S. (J.S.) Rippel in memory of his wife. The Foundation was founded in 1953 with a mission to invest in five distinct areas of health: caring for the elderly and for women, supporting hospitals, treating heart disease, and treating cancer. In directing funds, the Board of Trustees was granted broad authority to adopt approaches it deemed appropriate for changing times.

In 2006, the Board reflected on the relevance of the Foundation’s mission in today’s environment. The Trustees considered the writings of Julius A. Rippel, the founder’s nephew and the first Foundation President. Julius A. had advocated the important role of foundations as “pioneers” who must “have the courage to take initiative” in response to “changes in modern life.” As it planned for the Foundation’s future, the Board acknowledged the complex relationships between how health is achieved, how care is provided, and how resources are directed to reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases.  Over the past decade, the Foundation has evolved to focus on transformative system-wide changes to improve the health of all people in the United States.  Learn more about our approach.

Our Founder

Born in 1868 in Newark, New Jersey, J.S. Rippel began his financial career in 1887 with stockbroker and steamship agent Graham and Company. He started his own firm, J.S. Rippel and Company, in 1891 at the age of 22. This company specialized in local investment securities and in New Jersey municipal bonds. Mr. Rippel was a visionary and bold man. 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 and became a prominent leader in many banking circles.

At age 30, Mr. Rippel proposed to Fannie Estelle Traphagen, his former Sunday school teacher, who was 18 years his senior. Mrs. Rippel was also from Newark and was an active member of the Newark community. The couple did not have children and were well-known for their philanthropic activities in the community.

By the mid-1920s, Mr. Rippel’s 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. Upon his death seven years after his wife, he established the Foundation in her name, devoting nearly all of his income to the causes she had most favored over her life.

Read more about J.S. Rippel’s dynamic vision of health and how the Foundation has pursued it.