I write to honor Vi Ripken’s remarkable life of service to children and families in Harford County and, through her leadership with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, to children from across America. “Ms. Vi” is the focus of many heartwarming stories. My favorite occurred the morning after Cal Jr. set the record for most consecutive games played.
On Sept. 6, 1995, almost everyone on Planet Earth celebrated Cal’s record-setting 2,131 consecutive games. The post-game festivities continued late into the evening hours. Aberdeen, Harford County, and the entire baseball world rejoiced.
My Ms. Vi story, however, happened the next morning. The board of directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford County was scheduled to meet at 8 a.m. We met in the office of an Aberdeen business. Local radio DJ, future Harford County Councilman “Capt’n” Jim McMahan would unlock the building door at 7:30 so we could set up for the meeting.
I arrived that morning at 7:30 and found Vi Ripken, with a can of furniture polish in hand, cleaning off the conference table and meeting surfaces. I was amazed. Mrs. Ripken, the board president, who probably didn’t have four hours sleep and could have easily excused herself from the meeting, was there in her unassuming self doing “her job.” She spoke to our board briefly about Cal’s achievements, accepted our congratulations ... and then we all went on to do Boys & Girls Clubs business.
As noted in many of the tributes to Mrs. Ripken, she was her own person and held firm values. She touched my life and the lives of countless others and I am grateful and will miss her.
Havre de Grace