Robert A. Roripaugh, 87, passed away on January 2, 2018, at Ivinson Memorial Hospital. Born on August 26, 1930, in Oxnard, California, to Charles C. Roripaugh and Marion Abbott Roripaugh, he grew up in Midland, Texas. Roripaugh studied English at the Universities of Texas, New Mexico, and Wyoming.
A prominent advocate for and award-winning practitioner of the Wyoming literary arts, Roripaugh fell in love with Wyoming while ranching along the Wind River Mountains with his parents, and lived in Wyoming from 1949-2019—with the exception of intervals spent studying in the Southwest, and for Army service in Japan where he met his wife of 63 years, Yoshiko Horikoshi. Early in his writing career, Roripaugh authored two novels: “A Fever for Living,” set in post-war Japan, and “Honor Thy Father,” which received the Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame as the Outstanding Western Novel of 1963. Roripaugh also published two volumes of poetry, “Learn to Love the Haze and The Ranch,” as well as a collection of short stories, “The Legend of Billy Jenks and Other Wyoming Stories.” In 1995, Roripaugh was selected to serve as the Wyoming Poet Laureate—an appointment he filled until 2002.
A Professor of English at the University of Wyoming, Roripaugh taught creative writing and Western American Literature for 35 years until his retirement in 1993. He is remembered fondly by generations of creative writing students for his generous and careful mentorship. In 2008, Roripaugh was honored with an Outstanding Former Faculty Award from the University of Wyoming College of Arts & Sciences. Roripaugh is survived by his wife, Yoshiko Horikoshi Roripaugh, of Laramie, Wyoming, and his daughter, Lee Ann Roripaugh, of Vermillion, South Dakota.