Jim Rippey, Oregon ’53, has modeled a Lifetime Responsibility of Brotherhood. He built a career and legacy that few achieve, and he never lost sight of his values or Fraternity.
A pioneer in the mutual fund industry, Rippey co-founded what would later become the largest money management firm in the Pacific Northwest. He began by offering Oregon their first mutual fund. When he sold his company – Columbia Management Company – in 1997, he had $22 billion under management and shareholders spread across the world.
Rippey grew up in the small, coastal town of Coos Bay, Ore. When he arrived at the University of Oregon, Jim found a group of men who shared his strong values and joined our Oregon Beta Chapter in 1950. A natural leader, he guided the chapter as president and house manager.
Jim’s leadership experience with SigEp served as training for the making of a career that helped change the landscape of global finance. He credits his time in the chapter with some early financial wisdom, but the words that ring loudest speak to Jim’s commitment to living SigEp’s values. “In my line of business, character is very highly regarded…our reputation at Columbia was always very high, and that carried us a long way.”
Jim also found in SigEp a place to learn timeless lessons on leadership. Reflecting on his years as a chapter officer, he recalled, “It gave me a lot of confidence and let me shine.” The most important lesson he learned? “Teams need to be able to pull in the same direction, that’s leadership,” Jim said. “Motivation is most important. You have to find ways to motivate others and create a team.”
A warm and magnetic personality, Jim is a natural team-builder. In fact, many on Jim’s “team” have been present since his undergraduate days at Oregon. He met his wife Shirley through a SigEp brother in his senior year of college and still counts fellow chapter brothers as some of his best friends. “I just got together with half a dozen fraternity brothers for a barbeque in August. Six of us, all in our 80s, meet a couple of times a year and pick up like we saw each other yesterday.”
Since retiring in 1998, Jim has been a dedicated advocate and philanthropist, supporting a number of nonprofits including the Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation, the University of Oregon, and his family’s foundation, the JFR Foundation. “Our purpose is children’s causes and education,” Jim said of his foundation’s philanthropic efforts. “That’s the future of our country; we are dependent on young people and education.”
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