Dr. Jack, ’77, and Janice, ’78, Ruopp of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, are 2022 recipients of Notre Dame Regional High School’s (NDHS) prestigious Annunciation Award.
The honor was bestowed by the NDHS Education Fund Foundation on October 14 at the Acts of the Apostles Dinner at the Jackson Civic Center.
The award is presented annually to individuals who have devoted immeasurable time, talent or treasure to sustain Catholic secondary education in the community and whose presence, by word and deed, has enriched the lives of the students of Notre Dame and served as an example for all.
“We were surprised and bewildered,” the Ruopps said upon learning they would be honored. “There are so many people over the course of years who’ve given their time and talents to Notre Dame that are more deserving – all the priests, nuns, Brother David (Migliorino), Mr. (Tim) Garner and the lay faculty. We feel very humbled because there are other people who have given so much.”
The Ruopps’ commitment to Notre Dame is firmly rooted in their upbringings. Jack’s parents, the late Dudley and Imelda Ruopp, as well as Janice’s parents, Shirley and the late Charles Drury Sr., impressed upon them early on in their married life the importance of supporting Catholic schools and the religious of the Catholic faith.
Jack said his parents, who raised eight children, were not in a position to provide financial support for Catholic education, but they were very “service-oriented people” who stressed the need “to give back through community service.”
The Drurys set that example as well, with Charles and Shirley explaining to them that “it was vitally important to continue to give back to those who have done so much for us,” they said. “It’s what we desired to do as well.”
And so they did. Shortly after the Notre Dame Regional High School building was constructed and opened in 1998 at 265 Notre Dame Drive just west of Cape Girardeau, Jack and Janice were approached about various needs at the new school, including tuition assistance for students and development of athletic programs.
“The Ruopps have been essential in helping improve and maintain our athletics facilities, especially the baseball field and the baseball/softball hitting facility,” said Notre Dame Athletic Director Jeff Graviett. “Their support goes beyond just a gift. Jack and Janice also helped install the interior walls of the hitting facility.”
“The Ruopps were one of the first families I got the pleasure of interacting with during my early days at Notre Dame,” Graviett continued. “Now, I consider them very dear friends. I am not able to thank them enough for all the support they have given to me and, more importantly, Notre Dame High School over the years.”
“We had five children who attended Notre Dame,” they said. “Our kids were involved in sports and we wanted to support” that need.
“Janice deserves much more credit than I for supporting Notre Dame with her time and talent,” Jack said. “Janice was able to help out with Activity Week and was always there to say ‘yes.’”
Saying “yes” is the outgrowth of the Ruopps receiving a grounding in Catholic education early on in their lives. Jack attended St. Vincent de Paul School in Cape Girardeau, while Janice attended St. Augustine in Kelso. Later, the two would meet at Notre Dame.
“I was not a very good student at Notre Dame,” Jack said. “Janice was a much better student. She played volleyball and was a cheerleader. I was just a long-haired rough neck.”
But it was the guidance of Notre Dame faculty that proved pivotal in their lives.
“That foundation – the values teachers would demonstrate for us was very important,” they said.
“I recall how much fun I had and the good times I shared joking and kidding with (the late) Mr. (Jerry) Grim and Sister Joan (Andert) in the halls and at sporting events,” Janice said. “I am also very appreciative of Mrs. Glenda Smith who was devoted to the Notre Dame girls’ volleyball team and cheerleading squad.”
Jack reflected on those who impacted him, including Sister Margaret McCormick who taught sociology and Sister Mary Raynald Blomer who served as principal. They were guiding forces in his life. He recalls being “scared to death” of Sister Mary Raynald Blomer, but now reflects on her as “a sweet, kind and very patient person.”
Jack says he spent detention time often tending to Sister Margaret McCormick’s rose garden near the convent just north of the former NDHS along Ritter Drive. The regularity of his time there, he jokes, led him to believe school dismissal was always at 4:15 p.m. But he now realizes the time spent there was valuable.
“I learned more from her working in her rose garden after school than in class,” he said.
He also credits his guidance counselor for suggesting he “buckle down” for success later in life.
Janice said she particularly enjoyed sharing her time at Notre Dame with her two sisters who attended at the same time.
“My sister Jennifer was always busy playing basketball, and my sister Jackie and I used to go on double dates together,” she said. “That was always fun and interesting.”
The high school years, they said, are a formative time when students are confused and “trying to figure things out.”
Notre Dame “gave us a foundation, a standard. It gave us something to come back to.”
The faith-based education the Ruopps received provided them solid footing for life, they said.
“As we grow older, our faith, we realize, is so important. When you have children and grandchildren, you grow to see the need for faith to keep you grounded,” they said. “You learn how short life is. We need to realize why we’re here. Our faith teaches us that.”
“We understand what we should be doing while we’re here. It’s based on what God has done for us through Jesus Christ,” the Ruopps said. “We do the best we can. The Catholic Church provides us a process for walking us through our faith. It’s our faith that takes us through the good times and the difficult.”
Understanding the roadmap their faith and upbringing provided them, the Ruopps have encouraged their children to send their offspring to Catholic schools as well. Continuing that tradition, the Ruopps’ grandchildren are now attending Catholic schools in St. Louis and Festus, and they are gladly supporting the efforts of those schools too.
“Catholic, parochial education is very important, now more than ever,” they said.
“I continue to be humbled by individuals like Jack and Janice Ruopp,” said Notre Dame Principal Tim Garner. “They both come from Catholic families and were raised with the importance of the faith, the importance of their family, and the importance of giving back to help others. They raised their own children in much the same way.”
“We have all had different paths in life and have had different ways of getting to the same destination. Jack and Janice have taken their path and made sure to help others along the way have the opportunity to receive a Catholic education at Notre Dame,” continued Mr. Garner. “They allow others to have one of the best opportunities to succeed in faith, in academics, in athletics, and in life and we thank them for that. Support like theirs is irreplaceable and we continue to be good stewards of their support to the high school.”
About the Ruopps
After their graduations from Notre Dame High School, Jack went on to complete his undergraduate studies at Southeast Missouri State University, while Janice graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota.
Jack matriculated to Logan College of Chiropractic in St. Louis where he graduated in 1985, following in the professional footsteps of his father, who opened a chiropractic practice in Cape Girardeau in 1946. The younger Ruopp joined his father in 1985 in his practice, where they worked together full time for a year. His father later went part time, providing chiropractic services until age 70.
Later, Jack founded Pillar Chiropractic Center at 3232 Independence in Cape Girardeau, where Janice served as the full-time office manager throughout their careers. She wore many other hats as well. She ran their household of five children while supporting them in their many extracurricular activities, and served on the boards of Drury Development Corporation and of DDI Media in St. Louis, frequently traveling to St. Louis for meetings.
Jack, who has now served as a chiropractor for 37 years, said his father sparked his interest in chiropractic. His time spent as an arrhythmia technician at Southeast Hospital also reinforced his decision to pursue a health-related career. In 2019, he sold his Pillar Chiropractic Center to Dr. Seth Hudson and Hudson Chiropractic, with Dr. Christopher Crawford joining ownership in January 2021. The practice, now in its third generation, has four doctors – Hudson, Crawford, Dr. Don Davis and Dr. Jack Ruopp, who continues to see patients once a week at the facility.
In their semi-retirement, Jack also manages and maintains commercial and rental property, and Janice continues to serve on the boards of Drury Development Corporation and DDI Media.
The Ruopps are the parents of five children, all Notre Dame graduates: Rachel Ruopp Wencewicz, ’04, Erica Ruopp Sharp, ’06, Megan Ruopp Schomer, ’08, Jacklyn Ruopp Essner, ’10, and Graham Ruopp, ’15. They have 15 grandchildren.