Heavy Heart

I was writing the acknowledgments for Mystical Connections this morning. Among others, I thanked my two favorite English teachers, both of whom encouraged me to write. Nancy Brooks, my sixth grade teacher was the one to spark my interest in writing novels. And John Ruppel, my high school English teacher, made my need to write even stronger. They were both incredible teachers!

Ms. Brooks left teaching to go into retail – HR for Burdines, Dadeland, and ended up being the one who hired me for my first position at Burdines, where I climbed the corporate ladder for over 15 years of my retail career! We worked together for years, and I’d love to re-connect with her. So, I decided to Google both of them and see if I could find them. I found a connection to Ms. Brooks through LinkedIn.

Then I Googled John Ruppel, and my heart plunged. The year after he retired from teaching, he passed away. He had left South Miami High to teach at MAST Academy, and retired in 2008. He and his wife moved to St. Augustine – to think he lived only miles from our Ponte Vedra home. He fell ill in June 2009, and was diagnosed with a rare, fast-moving adrenal cancer. Two weeks later he was gone. He was only 61.

I’m sure I’m not the only student who remembers him with fondness. He was a tough, but caring educator, and his students respected him. He had a great sense of humor and made us laugh often, even as he assigned more difficult studies. I’m sad to learn he’s no longer with us, sad that he won’t see his name in my novel’s acknowledgments. He was one of the few who truly touched lives. RIP Mr. Ruppel and know you were one of the best!! Hugs – Christine