I took this picture of Ripley in front of her house on Wylie Street in Missoula. I was on a road trip with Mary Randlett, a photographer who took pictures for my book on Richard Hugo. Ripley didn’t always like what people, including me, said about her late husband. Dick Hugo, the poet who wrote so achingly of Montana and Scotland and the Puget Sound region, inspired Ripley’s complete loyalty, despite his own shortcomings with booze and inadequacy around women. Ripley could be prickly and fierce in her defense of Hugo.
Over the sixteen years that I knew her, we became friends. I felt lucky that she didn’t toss me out, and that she, instead, took me into her world. I’m forever grateful.
Here’s Ginny Merriam’s obituary for Ripley, published in the Missoulian.