Gridiron Glories | Ruppert played guard and linebacker on the University football team from 1953-1955. “We had a pretty good team the last year we were there,” he says. “We went 7-2. We beat UC, 37-0. We had some great players: Steve Junker who played for the Detroit Lions, Frank Sweeney, who’s on the Supreme Court of Ohio, Don St. John and James “Dutch” Schwartz. I was a so-so player. For a kid from Norwood, Ohio, though, I did OK.”
Semper Fi | While at the University, Ruppert was part of a U.S. Marine Corps officer candidate school that also produced, among others, future success stories Michael Conaton, vice chairman of the Midland Co. and chairman of Xavier’s board of trustees, and Simon Leis, crusading sheriff of Hamilton County, Ohio. Following graduation, Ruppert was commissioned a lieutenant in the Marines and headed for basic training at Quantico, Va. After eight grueling months of training, he became a platoon leader.
Awash in Soap | When his military obligation ended in 1958, Ruppert joined Procter & Gamble in sales management. “I sold a lot of soap, whether they needed it or not,” he says. After 33 years managing various sales divisions, Ruppert retired in 1991. “I figured that one-third of a century doing anything is enough,” he says.
A Writer’s Life | With time on his hands after retiring, Ruppert turned his attention to writing. He wrote a commentary and humor column for a local community newspaper for five years, and in 1998 decided to write a book about the Marines. “It occurred to me that I am who I am basically because of the solid middle-class family that I had and the Marine Corps.”
Order of the Day | Ruppert’s book, “One of Us,” was released in June to glowing reviews. The book offers an insider’s look at the selection and training of officers in the Marine Corps, and compares the attitudes of Ruppert’s 1956 basic officers’ school class with those of a 2000 class.
The Rigors of Research | Ruppert researched “One of Us” by following a Marine officer-selection officer on recruiting trips to colleges, observing new candidates during their first several days at Quantico and making 10 visits to the base over an 18-month period to interview staff and candidates. He also conducted market research surveys to compare the attitudes, opinions and backgrounds of the two generations.
Apples to Apples | Ruppert expected widely varying differences in the attitudes of the two generations. But he was in for a shock. “They’re so close in attitude it’s scary,” he says. “Their backgrounds are remarkably close, and there are lots of similar opinions and value judgments. Something about the Marine Corps just attracts people who want to be part of something bigger than themselves.”