Memories of the Past: Jim Rupert

Scouting, nature and history are Jim Rupert’s great loves. From a souvenir picked up at Omaha Beach during a side trip from an English Jamboree to his display of the family’s Clan Fraser tartan, albums of nature photos and Scouting trips, Jim’s house is full of memorabilia that reflect his interests.

Born in Canada, Jim joined a Wolf Cub pack in Montreal. After he moved to the States at age 11, attending St. Paul Academy, he joined a Scout troop and remained registered in Scouts through high school. In 1948, he was elected to the Order of the Arrow, and before earning the Eagle Scout Award in 1950, he joined a Rover Crew, a program for young men ages 18-24.

He went to Camp Neibel on Balsam Lake, Wisconsin, starting in 1946, on Balsam Lake, Wisconsin. He served on camp staff as an Assistant Scoutmaster in 1949 and 1950. He fondly recalls leading campfire singing and telling ghost stories featuring “Hateful Hannah”, whom the Scouts feared.

Jim’s mother was Katharine Sim Rupert, an artist raised in Scotland, and his father, Walter, was chair of the Minnesota Mutual Life Insurance Co. One of his mother’s paintings in his home features Jim fishing on Lake of the Woods at age 26. He recalls they had a Native American  guide and Jim caught three fish.

He has a younger brother, John, who attended MIT, earned an MS in Fluid Dynamics, and worked for Honeywell. John also attended a college in Germany on a Dankstipendium, which was a “thank you” scholarship for the U.S. helping Germany rebuild after WWII. John worked on the space shuttle at Honeywell and figured out what angle the wings should be on the space shuttle. As for Jim, he was a long-time employee of Prudential.

Jim became involved again in Scouting later in life when his stepson, Matt, was old enough to join Cubs. Matt now lives in Rochester and still helps Jim with his computer.

He was involved in unique Scouting opportunities. One was with Troop 594, which he led for 13 years as Scoutmaster. This troop was started in 1973 by Max Hoemke to prepare special needs kids to learn a trade. Max never used the word “disabled” and instead he preferred to talk about “opportunities”. Jim became Scoutmaster of the troop in 2001 and took one or two troop members to Tomahawk Scout Camp for 13 years. They camped with the Cottage Grove Troop 237. Although unable to participate in all of the camp activities, the Scouts enjoyed archery, service projects, and climbing the fire tower.

Rupert and the troop leadership coached five of the Scouts, all adults, the oldest being age 71, up to the rank of Eagle, one of them being a charter member of the troop. The Pioneer Press featured a page 1 story about the troop with a focus on Steve Lape, the charter member, and Channel 5 KSTP did a story on the troop. Steve died recently from Alzheimer’s.

Besides receiving the Torch of Gold Award for his work with the special needs Scouts, Rupert was selected as Scoutmaster of Philanthropy in 2014, is a James West Fellow, and received the Silver Beaver Award. He is an Honorary Life Member of the Council and continues as an Associate Advisor in Venturing Crew 781.

In Jim’s view, the Scout program is an all-purpose program for kids, and covers so much general information that is it useful for Scouts later in life. The values taught, in addition to the Scout Law and Oath, are important for every child to be exposed to. Someone once told Jim, “The longer a boy stays in Scouts, the longer the values stay with him.”

In addition, he feels that “when it comes to giving a boy or a girl a broad education, and wide outdoor experience, the BSA is as close as it comes to being a ‘full-service organization’.”

When he has occasion to talk to Scouts working their way up the ranks, Jim tries to make the point that there are very few things a teenager can do that will make them feel good about themselves every day for the rest of their life. And earning an Eagle Scout award is one of them.

Jim firmly believes that a financial gift to Scouting helps kids who need Scouting the most but can afford it the least. He says, “My rather varied Scouting involvements have enabled me to deliver the Scouting program more effectively, and have motivated me to make donations to the council, both annually and in my will.”

Jim, thank you from all Scouts—both young and old!