LOUIS “LOU” ALAN RIPPNER, a giant in the local furniture business for more than five decades and a leader in the local Jewish community, passed away in South Florida, the place to where he had retired, on Tuesday, April 16, 2019. He was 91.
To know Rippner was to love him. Known for his eternal optimism and warmth, he had six priorities in life: family, family, family, candy, Compass Furniture, and golf. He was sweeter than the M&M’s in his pocket but was a shrewd businessman with infinite class.
During his career, Rippner received many awards and accolades for his business acumen and was widely respected for his willingness to mentor others. Philanthropy and generosity were integral to him. He devoted his time to community, serving as the president of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, general chairman of the New Orleans Jewish Welfare Fund, and chairman of the Addison Reserve Jewish Welfare Fund. He and his wife also established the Rippner Family Foundation at Ochsner Clinic and Hospital.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Rippner was a graduate of Case Western Reserve and went on to achieve a law degree from Cleveland State University after attending classes at night. Prior to his passing the bar, he started his career in the furniture industry at Watkins Furniture in Cleveland while working during the day. He later became president of the company.
Rippner moved his family to New Orleans in 1972 to open a new furniture division for City Stores, a retail holding company. Five years later in 1977, he established his own self-named brand, Lou Rippner’s Compass Furniture, which continues to prosper to this day.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Carol (née Mitnick), his daughters Laurie Milani (Richard) and Cindy Kurtz (Brad), his son William “Billy” (Janie), his eight grandchildren, and one great-grandson.
A private celebration of Lou’s life was held for immediate family only at Beth Israel Memorial Chapel on Thursday, April 18, in Boynton Beach, FL.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Ochsner Clinic Foundation’s Rippner Family Fund, 1514 Jefferson Highway, BH 607, New Orleans, LA 70121 or online at giving.ochsner.org.