It was clear by the turnout Monday at the memorial service for Bob Rupp that the former Benton County sheriff and once the oldest living state trooper had a lasting impact on those who knew him.
Rupp, who died April 25 at the age of 100, was remembered as a man of integrity, a lawman with great poise and a servant of his community. But above all, the husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather was remembered as a family man.
Police officers from every Tri-City law enforcement agency sat behind an altar inside the church where a state flag and trooper hat rested in honor of Rupp.
Though tears were shed in the crowd of more than 100 at Kennewick First United Methodist Church, tales about Rupp’s storied career in law enforcement and infectious personality filled the sanctuary with laughter.
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“Today is a day of joy,” Bill Rupp told the crowd during his father’s service.
Rupp was a trooper with the Washington State Patrol for 34 years, spending time stationed in Tacoma before returning to Kennewick in 1964 to finish out his career with the agency. Rather than call it quits from law enforcement after more than three decades, Rupp ran for sheriff in Benton County shortly after retirement.
He spent the next 12 years helping to build the department from the ground up, bringing a high level of professionalism and eagerness to do what was right. Rupp helped get the Benton County Justice Center and jail built, started a marine patrol and SWAT team, helped form a drug task force and secured a plane for the department.
Rupp retired in 1987, marking an end to a 46-year career in law enforcement.
Current Sheriff Steve Keane spoke at the memorial, giving Rupp credit for having a lasting legacy and helping to make the department what it is today.
“Bob will be missed but he won’t be forgotten,” he said.
State patrol Chief John Batiste also talked about Rupp’s willingness to proudly take on the prestigious role as the oldest living retired trooper. The state patrol had asked Rupp to participate in department events throughout the years, including a 2007 ceremony when the Tacoma Narrows Bridge reopened.
Rupp was in the first car to legally drive across the bridge when it opened in 1950.
Batiste remembered Rupp as being passionate about his family and there every time the state patrol called on him.
“I enjoyed being around Bob because Bob was a good person with a good heart,” Batiste said.
The Rupp family used Monday as a time to celebrate Bob’s life and reunion with his wife Alice and son Roger who died in 2007 and 2010, respectively. He is survived by three children, Christine Green, Bill Rupp and Bobbi Lochansky.
A procession of police cars helped escort cars to the church, which is exactly how Bill Rupp told the crowd his father would have wanted it.
“Once again he had wheels under him and he was surrounded by flashing lights,” Bill Rupp said. “He couldn’t be happier. It was a fitting end for Bob Rupp.”