Members of Boy Scout Troop 735 in Gamber say Vernon "Rick" Rippeon, of Westminster, was the physical embodiment of the scout law.
"Every time I say those 12 words: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent, I will think of him," said Noah Flater, senior patrol leader of the troop.
Rippeon, 51, died of an apparent heart attack while on a Father's Day hike in New Hampshire's White Mountains with his troop, which included his two sons Ryan and Patrick. He was a former scoutmaster and was the troop's assistant scoutmaster when he died.
A memorial service and celebration of Rippeon's life will be held at 11 a.m. today at the First United Presbyterian Church in Westminster. The family will receive friends following the service. The family did not wish to comment for this article.
"He was a man who was not afraid to joke around with us," Flater said. "He was able to foster one of these unique relationships with any and every member of the troop …[he provided] this sense of comfort, of fatherly love, that has driven me and all the other boys to do our best on our journey through scouting."
Mike Pumphrey, former assistant scoutmaster for the troop, said Rippeon's family joined the group at the same time as his family.
"He's always gave so much of himself. In mentoring and guiding all of the other scouts, Rick was always a positive influence and role model. My family will always be grateful for the role he played in our boys' lives. He gave them a wonderful scouting experience," Pumphrey said.
Pumphrey explained that while the troop is a scout-led organization, Rippeon did all of the trip planning to make sure the group got the maximum enjoyment out of each experience. The troop embarks on a camping trip every month except August and participates in "high adventure" trips that push the scouts' limits, physically and mentally. The trip to the White Mountains was a "high adventure" outing.
"Mr. Rippeon was a very patient guy, and he had time for everyone in Boy Scouts," said troop member Vinnie Calabria. "I will miss him."
Shawnna Bez, the troop's committee chair, joined the group with her son, Jack, in April 2012.
"It has been an honor to work with Rick. He was always looking for the good in people and situations, and strived to help scouts and others grow to their full potential," she said. "He loved being outside doing things with his kids and the scouts. Rick will be greatly missed, but will always be at 'the Scout Hut' with us, as well as in our hearts."
Troop member Jack Bez was on the New Hampshire trip with the Rippeons. Jack said he was thankful for Rippeon's stories and guidance.
"If you had a problem, you could always go to him and he'd help you," Jack said. "I'm really going to miss him."
Christopher Lassiter, an assistant scoutmaster for the troop, said Rippeon was one of the key reasons he and his son Seth decided to join the group.
"Rick had genuine enthusiasm toward scouting and the development of these young men as scouts and future adults," Lassiter said. "He will be missed dearly by all but I know Rick spirit will live on in the day-to-day activities of the young men he once helped mentor."