Couple, 100-Years-Old, 98-Years Old Killed In California Wildfire Wed For 75 Years

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Mike Rippey stood among pieces of metal, porcelain and other remnants of the California home where his 100-year-old father and 98-year-old mother had died in the raging wine country wildfires.AAthqLFRippey said Tuesday his brother had discovered their bodies after driving to the home and managing to get past security. 

He said his father Charles appeared to be heading to the room of his mother, Sara, when he was overcome by the smoke and flames.

 

“My father certainly wouldn’t have left her,” Mike Rippey said.

 

The couple had met in grade school in Wisconsin and been together ever since, celebrating their 75th anniversary last year.

 

Rippey, 71, said he and his siblings couldn’t imagine how either parent would have navigated life if just one had survived the flames.

 

“We knew there’s no way they would ever be happy, whoever was the last one. So they went together, and that’s the way it worked,” he said stoically.

 

In the charred remains of the home, only metal and porcelain survived to testify to the couple’s long life together. There were coffee cups along a low sill; two metal chairs, side-by-side by a patio table; and a porcelain tea set of white and soft washes of blue, some pieces still intact.

 

Charles Rippey — nicknamed “Peach” as a toddler for his chubby cheeks — and his wife were among the 17 victims who have died in the fierce, fast-moving fires that started on Sunday and raged through neighborhoods. None of the other victims had been identified.

Authorities are expecting other older people to be among the dead, who like the Rippeys might not have been able to move fast enough to beat the flames.

 

Mike Rippey said his mother had previously suffered a stroke.

 

Seventeen wildfires raging across parts of seven counties have destroyed more than 2,000 homes, businesses and other structures.

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: Reuters; AP
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