Tuesday, June 20, 2006

William J. Ripperger Jr. (1975-2006)

"June 16, 2006. Suddenly. Survived by his parents, William J. and Catherine Ripperger; brothers, Joseph Ripperger and Andrew Ripperger; grandmother, Madeline Ripperger; God parents, John and Mary Ellen Maley; several aunts, uncles and cousins.Family and friends may call Tuesday, 2-4, 7-9 PM at the funeral home of Alvah Halloran & Son, 2125 Chili Ave. Funeral Mass, 10 AM, Wednesday, St. Monica's Church (Genesee St.). Interment, St. Rose Cemetery, Lima, NY. Memorial contributions may be made to the Multiple Sclerosis Assoc."

Just wanted to give a quick thought on this. Knowing Billy Ripperger is one of the earliest memories I have. Back before my brother could even talk, Billy and I used to be good pals. Both our names were Billy, so we made reference to that fact every chance we got. He was a skinny redheaded freckly kid and I was a skinny blonde bucktoothed kid. We were just about the same age; I can't remember who was older.

I remember we used to call each other by each other's names for some strange reason. So he would say, "Hey Billy Ripperger" to me, and I would reply, "Yeah, Billy Shannon?" And we would giggle the way little kids do. Maybe we thought we could fool each other's parents so they couldn't tell us apart.

I will always remember spending Friday nights over at Billy's house. We would watch "The Dukes of Hazzard" or some silly show, then stay up late laughing. (I think his parents thought we were asleep, though.) On Saturday his mom would make breakfast and we would watch cartoons. This was all a quarter-century ago, but I remember much of it like it was yesterday. I remember the living room, the back yard, the upstairs. All very clear to me.

Billy passed away this past Friday, and I am now realizing that I haven't seen him in over 25 years. But hearing of his death deeply affects me. To say that a part of my childhood is gone would be a selfish comment. I have lost one of my first friends. But this isn't about me, it's about the other Billy.

Happy trails to you, Billy. You were a really sweet kid and I'm sure a great adult. My thoughts and prayers go out to your parents, brothers and the rest of your family. You're in a better place, and just know that you have touched lives -- even ones you haven't known in 25 years -- more than you know.

Your friend,
Billy Shannon

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