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Robert Roripaugh -- 2008 Outstanding Former Faculty
Department of English
Growing up in California, West Texas, and Wyoming (where he has remained since 1949) inspired Professor Emeritus Robert Roripaugh, Department of English, to write about the landscapes and characters of the West. An award-winning novelist, short story writer, literary critic, and poet, Roripaugh is known for creating work rooted in Wyoming’s natural setting, climate, ways of life, and people. His love for Wyoming is evident in both his writing and life choices. Between periods of study and teaching, Roripaugh ranched with his parents along the Wind River Mountains, west of Lander, and his connection to the University of Wyoming began as a student.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in Geology and English in 1952, followed by a master’s degree in English in 1953. After serving the United States Army in Japan, Roripaugh returned to UW as a William Robertson Coe fellow, followed by further graduate study at the University of New Mexico. Roripaugh returned to UW in 1958 to begin his 35-year teaching career in the Department of English.
Among other courses, Roripaugh taught creative writing and Western American Literature. A generous mentor, Roripaugh’s former students refer to him as a man with dignity and decency who touched their lives immeasurably.
After his retirement from UW in 1993, Roripaugh was named Wyoming Poet Laureate in 1995 and served the state for eight years. Roripaugh has received numerous awards for his writing, including a Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1963 for his novel Honor Thy Father. His essay, “Melville’s Typee and Frontier Travel Literature of the 1830s-40s,” earned Roripaugh the Don D. Walker Prize for the best essay in Western literary criticism in 1982.
His recent book, The Legend of Billy Jenks and Other Wyoming Stories, was published in 2007. Roripaugh and his wife Yoshiko live in Laramie.