Chandus Thomas "Chan" Rippons Sr., a retired waterman and founder of a seafood company that bears the family name, died of heart failure Saturday at his home in Hoopersville. He was 80.
Mr. Rippons' family goes back five generations on Hooper Island in Dorchester County. He was born in 1916 in Hoopersville and began a career of crabbing, oystering and fishing at 11, quitting school when his father died.
"He came up through the school of hard knocks," said his son, Chandus Thomas Rippons Jr., who runs the family seafood-packing business that provides seafood -- primarily crab meat -- to Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia and New Jersey.
Rippons Bros. Seafood Co. Inc. was founded in 1947 by Mr. Rippons, two brothers and their stepfather. Mr. Rippons later became the sole owner. He retired in 1981.
In a 1977 article about the unpredictability of Maryland's crab catch, Mr. Rippons told Sun reporter Tom Horton: "Crabs is like flies: You don't know where they come from or where they go to, but they always come around."
Although he had been ill for several years, Mr. Rippons enjoyed fishing, his son said, and gave a presentation on the seafood industry several years ago for the National Aquarium in Baltimore.
Mr. Rippons used to be the man on the island to see "if you had a fishhook in your hand or needed a tooth pulled or a splinter: They'd come to Dad, although he wasn't a doctor," the son said.
"And he was a joke-teller. He just loved to tell jokes," his son said.
Mr. Rippons also was a good Samaritan, the son said, recalling a typical incident in which a magazine writer was trapped in a sudden thunderstorm near the island. Through the storm he saw Mr. Rippons, who waved him in, tied up the boat and sat him down to steamed crabs -- and jokes.
He was a founder of Hooper Island Volunteer Fire Company, served on the Dorchester County Planning and Zoning Commission during the 1970s and was a member of Cambridge Elks Lodge 1272. He belonged to Hoopersville United Methodist Church, where he held several positions, including chairman of the board.
In 1938, he married Louise Ruark, who died in 1983. In 1986, he married Mabel Rahe, who survives him.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow at Hoopersville United Methodist Church.
Other survivors include a daughter, Janet Rippons Colman of Hoopersville; three stepchildren, John Rahe of Minot, N.D., Evelyn Renkwitz of Cambridge and Danny Rahe of East New Market; a sister, Marge Rippons Strzegowski of Baltimore; two brothers, Irving Rippons of Fishing Creek and Willard Rippons of Sykesville; five grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; seven step-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
Pub Date: 8/12/96