Wisconsin Geospatial News

Memories of Ron Ripp

This summer Ron Ripp, longstanding Dane County Surveyor, passed away. Captured here are just some of the memories and accomplishments of our colleague, as compiled by some of his closest friends and peers.

Ron was well-respected in the land surveying community, especially among his fellow county surveyors. He worked effectively with his colleages providing positive and insightful guidance. He had a quiet and respected style, often letting others take the credit and limelight. Ron was particularly committed to the future of the surveying profession and the education of local high school student and surveying students at MATC and the UW-Madison.

Ron spent countless hours educating our future generations in the art and science of surveying and land records. His positive influence is reflected in the many people he touched and encouraged. He knew the location, history and story behind every official survey marker in Dane County. As he drove up to a monument, Ron always had a smile and a good story to share. Working with him on any project was always a happy and memorable experience.

Ron began his career at Dane County as a draftman under County Surveyor George Weir in 1971. He was later appointed Assisstant County Surveyor, and became County Surveyor in 1983. In his thirty years with Dane County, Ron guided the Surveyors Office through an evolution from centuries old manual methods to automated processes, while keeping a human and humorous touch.

Ron Ripp participated actively in a number of projects with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the late 1970s and 1980s, as Assistant County Surveyor, He was integral in the incorporation of land ownership information in the digital databases that were developed for the Westport Land Records Project. This project was one of the first of its kind in the United State and demonstrated the value of automating surveying and other land information using modern computer technologies such as GIS. Later, when Ron became County Surveyor, he was very active in the Dane County Land Records and CONSOIL Projects, that successfully demonstrated the modern application and use of land parcel boundary and ownership information for citizens and professionals. As part of these projects, Ron worked with numerous UW-Madison faculty and graduate students, as well as many Dane County, State and Federal Government officials to show local government application and use of then emerging technologies such as the global positioning (GPS) and inertial navigation systems. He was dedicated to both the archiving and accessibility of government records, actively pursuing projects that resulted in document preservation and online access to county survey records and map information.

Ron’s influence went well beyond the borders of Dane County as he motivated and educated otherw with the same title of "County Surveyor". Ron was active in many professional organizations, including the Wisconsin County Surveyors Association, the Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyors, the Madison Area Surveyors Council, and the Wisconsin Land Information Association. He would tell his colleagues what was what; the way the world really is; and what to do about it…always with humor. He was an unassuming man with wisdom hidden in the witty stories he shared with each of us, each story with an edge of practicality. As County Surveyor, the documents and maps that Ron signed are etched in time. His actions and dedication to his profession and position are forever recorded at Dane County. Ron Ripp will be sadly missed by his peers in the surveying and land records professions.