Ruprecht, Fred A.
Dec. 17, 1921 - Dec. 30, 2013
Fred A. Ruprecht, 92, of Sarasota, Florida (Sunnyside Village), formerly of Arlington Heights, IL, passed away December 30, 2013. He is survived by his loving wife of 68 years, Naomi (Walker) and his 2 children; Terry (Kris) Ruprecht of Mahomet, IL; and Thomas (Shirley) Ruprecht of Sarasota, FL; 2 grandchildren, Thomas and Erin and 2 great granddaughters, Dascha and Annika.
Fred was born December 17, 1921, in Oak Park, IL to Elizabeth (Lampe) and Frederick A Ruprecht, and had five older siblings, Edith, Carl, and Ray, who predeceased him and his sister Matie (Alliance, OH) and Betty (Sarasota, FL).
"Fritz" graduated from Chicago Austin HS in 1940 and enlisted in the army
in April 1941. He was assigned to the Air Corps, and trained as a parachute rigger- repairman at Chanute Field in Rantoul, IL. In January of 1942, not two months after Pearl Harbor, his Flying Tigers unit (26th Fighter Squadron, 51st Fighter Group, 14th Air Force) was shipped to the China-Burma-India theatre - among the very first US military units deployed overseas in WWII. Fred spent the next 38 months in India and China, including supervisor of the base parachute department for the Flying Tigers. He repacked, inspected, and repaired parachutes for both the unit's fighter pilots and cargo pilots who flew "The Hump". He returned stateside in early 1945, honorably discharged from the AAC, and in September of 1945 married his longtime sweetheart, Naomi Walker of Salem, Ohio...who fulfilled her promise to" wait for him" made when he shipped out in '42.
In the late 1940's, Fred and his brother started a parachute repacking/repair business in Wheeling, at Pal-Waukee airport. They also parachuted as a brother act in air shows in the Midwest. In the early 1950's, they diversified into auto seat belts. Prior to that, such restraints had only been employed in aircraft. At the same time he spent 2 years hand-building a large ranch home in then-rural Arlington Heights. In the early 1950's, he also began taking classes in engineering and business at Northwestern University
on the GI Bill, eventually receiving a 2-year certificate. In 1954 Fred began work as a recovery systems engineer at Cook Research Laboratories in Morton Grove, IL. From then until the mid-1960's he designed and built systems for the Jupiter-C and Redstone missile programs, the B-58 escape capsule, and the sub-orbital space shots leading to the Mercury and Apollo Programs. Fritz' name is listed on the Walk of Honor at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington D.C.
In the late 1960's he was operations manager for a sporting goods mfgr in the NW Chicago suburbs. In the 1970's and until his retirement he was a real estate broker in the Chicago suburbs. After retirement in 1987, he and "Omi" moved to Sarasota in 1996.
Fritz was an excellent tennis player; playing twice a week into his 70's ... he enjoyed golf well into his 80's. He was an expert woodworker and stained glass artist, making uncountable furnishings and decorations for friends and family for more than thirty years. He derived many decades of joy and satisfaction from gardening, including an amazing variety of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Fred and Naomi enjoyed traveling, taking many cruises, exploring the National Parks and spending time with their children and grandchildren.
A service will be held at the Sarasota National Cemetery at a later date. Donations may be made Tidewell Hospice, 5955 Rand Blvd, Sarasota, FL 34238.