Couple killed in California wildfire built a life in Wisconsin

HARTFORD - Two of the 21 victims of the California wildfires were natives of Hartford

Charles Rippey, 100, and Sara Rippey, 98 had lived in Napa for the last 35 years. They celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary earlier this year.

In downtown Hartford, a building still has the name "Rippey" above it. The building was owned by Charles' uncle and father. They ran an automotive shop there. Now, a flower shop sits in its place which is fitting since Charles and Sara's love story blossomed on the streets of Hartford nearly 90 years ago. 

"We often talk among each other about how each other would deal with life without the other," said Michael Rippey, the son of Charles and Sara. "We were definitely not looking forward to the first one dying and the other had to go on alone. Especially my father. He loved my mother and he called her the queen right up until the end."

The couple first met in elementary school in Hartford. They went on to attend Hartford High School and the University of Wisconsin Madison together. Charles graduated as a mechanical engineer and joined the military. Before he went overseas, the two were married in Battle Creek, Michigan. 

After the war, Charles worked for Firestone taking the family all across the globe with stops in Sweden and Argentina. They had two of their five children abroad. 

They moved to the Bay Area 35 years ago but have been inseparable their entire lives, all the way to the end. 

"We can see by where they found his body, he was trying to get from his room to her room," Michael Rippey said. "He never made it. Even if he had gotten there, he couldn't get her out. She couldn't move well at all. [But] there is no way he would have left."
 

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