The Ruppel Effect
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — When Joanie Ruppel enrolled her firstborn at St. John the Apostle School in 1987, she had no suspicion she would have children attending the North Richland Hills school for the next 31 years.
Joanie and her husband, John, began attending Mass at St. John the Apostle Parish in 1981, and their oldest son, Chris, began preschool in 1987. Their four younger children followed suit.
Described as a legacy family, the Ruppels have deeply impacted the faculty, staff, and families that have been part of St. John over the past three decades.
“John was president of the schoolboard, he was on the parish advisory council, new building committee, finance committee, really any committee you could be on, John was on it. When he retired he even became a substitute teacher here,” said Mary Moody, a fifth grade teacher at St. John and a family friend of the Ruppels. “Joanie teaches music in our childcare program, she teaches the music in our pre-k and kindergarten classes, helps direct our choir and does the music for our school Masses, among many other things.”
They have been very involved with the church as well, as they taught marriage preparation classes for 18 years, served in the food pantry and have been members of a small faith community for the past 27 years.
John and Joanie are widely known for their kind spirit and support to both St. John and its families. “They’ve just always been here and when you needed somebody that’s who you went to. You go to the Ruppels, they just make it happen. They have been financially supportive of the school, faithfully honored our school and church and things we’ve needed,” said Moody.
Their giving spirit has been passed on to their children, as all five of the Ruppel children have volunteered in various areas throughout the church and school.
But they have gotten just as much out of the school as they have put in. Joanie credits the school’s close community and excellent academics as the reason she and her husband kept sending their children to St. John. “It has given our children an excellent academic education, a place where we can live our faith seven days a week, and we feel like it’s our second home,” said Joanie Ruppel. “The community is so deeply embedded in our life.”
John and Joanie joined a small faith group at the church 27 years ago and found friends that have turned into family. “We do not have family that live around here at all, and the small faith community that we joined are still the same friends we have today and that we consider as family.”
When John passed away in 2010, the tight-knit community was finally able to return the support that the Ruppels had been giving the community for so long. “The community is really what picked us up and kept us going at that difficult time in our life, and that only strengthened the bonds we already had in the community,” said Joanie.
As evidence of the depth of their impact, the school was closed for the day of John’s funeral.
“This family is truly a legacy to this school. St. John wouldn’t be St. John without their influence,” Moody said.
The youngest Ruppel, Zoe, graduated from the eighth grade at St. John the Apostle last month, ending the family’s final year at the school. After the ceremony, the family was given a street sign bearing all of the Ruppel children’s names and graduation years to commemorate their 31 years spent growing the community through service and friendship.