George “Rip” Robert Rapp, Jr.


George Robert Rapp, Jr., fondly known as “Rip,” died on Monday, March 20, 2023, of dementia at 92 years old. Rip lived much of his life in Duluth. His parents, George and Gladys, were Minnesotans. Rip was born in Toledo, Ohio on September 19, 1930, when his parents were living there temporarily. His father was a ship captain on the Great Lakes and his mother was a schoolteacher. Rip grew up in West Duluth attending Merritt Elementary, West Junior High, and Denfeld High School, graduating in 1948. Rip got his nickname skating hard and playing hockey at the local rinks and in high school. He graduated from the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota in 1952 with a B.A. in geology and mineralogy, and then went to Pennsylvania State University to take his Ph.D. in geochemistry, graduating in 1960. It was while he was attending Penn State that he met his wife Jan.

Rip’s academic career began as a mineralogy professor at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in 1957. In 1965 he became a Professor of Geology at the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota. In 1975 he became the first dean of the College of Letters and Science when the University of Minnesota-Duluth reorganized into collegiate units. Rip was an avid runner who participated in many Grandma’s Marathons and ran the Boston Marathon in 1979. In 1983 he became the founding dean of UMD’s College of Science and Engineering, stepping down in 1989 to return to research and teaching a popular course on dinosaurs. Rip became UMD’s first Regents Professor Emeritus in 1995, which is an honor bestowed upon the most distinguished faculty of the UMN. From 1975 until his retirement in 2003 he was also the Director of the Archaeometry Lab and a Professor of Interdisciplinary Archaeology at UMD and UMN. After 2003 he spent most of each year in Tucson, Arizona hiking, biking, and continuing his research and scholarly publishing (18 books and 100s of research articles) including his own autobiography appropriately named “Rip.” Fortunately for his family, he moved back to his hometown of Duluth in 2014 living on beautiful Park Point.

Rip was best known for his geoarchaeological research and scientific publications on projects studying our human past in Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, Egypt, Tunisia, and China as well as North America. He lived an extraordinary 92.5 years touching the lives of all who knew him, greatly impacting the field of geoarchaeology and leaving an indelible mark on history. He traveled the world experiencing archaeological adventures, giving lectures and presentations on the results and findings of his expeditions, and continuously and generously educating and mentoring numerous graduate students culminating in 46 years in academia. He was a knowledgeable and dedicated scholar who supported, encouraged, and nurtured the careers of those he took under his wing. The Rapp family will be forever proud of, impressed with and fascinated by this remarkable man, his outstanding contributions to the interdisciplinary fields, the many honors bestowed upon him and the impactful legacy he has left for future generations.

Rip’s passions included discovering and analyzing rocks and minerals, enthusiastically researching scientific methods, excavating ancient civilizations, acquiring intriguing books and reading them all, running, exercising and eating healthy foods, listening to classical music and traveling. Taking Rip’s advice, he would want us all to be healthy and happy, find our passions, read a good book, educate ourselves, listen to music and take adventurous trips.

Rip was preceded in death by his parents, George and Gladys (Warner) Rapp, his brothers Ed and Dale Rapp, sisters-in-law Gerd Rapp, Carole Allen, and Arlene Rapp. Jan, his wife of 39 years, passed away in 1995.

Rip is survived by his brother Burleigh Keith (BK) Rapp, two daughters Kathryn Elmgren of Duluth and Karen Anderson (Greg) of Coon Rapids, five grandsons: Hazen (Ali) Elmgren, Hudson (Olivia) Elmgren, Jackson Anderson, Austen Anderson, and Tristen Anderson, 3 great-grandchildren: Emery, Liam and Zane Elmgren, numerous nieces, nephews, friends, and colleagues who all loved, respected, and admired him. He will be deeply missed, and we will all treasure the memories and cherish the wisdom he imparted to us all.

Per Rip’s wishes, there will not be a funeral. There may be a celebration of a life well lived including his extraordinary academic accomplishments with family, friends, and contemporaries in the future. Rip’s family would like to thank the nursing staff at Marywood and the Essentia Hospice Team for their medical support and compassionate care in making Rip comfortable in his end-of-life journey. His life-long desire was to donate his body to the University of Minnesota’s Medical School Anatomy Bequest Program contributing to the advancement of scientific research. UMN expresses their deep appreciation and gratitude for the decision he made to impact the welfare of humankind. So in true Rip fashion, he is still educating! R.I.P Rip

Memorials may be made to the UMD Rip Rapp Geology Field Camp Scholarship or the UMD Rip Rapp Scholarship in Engineering which he generously created and funded to help students. Make checks payable to the University of Minnesota Foundation and include “In Memory of Rip Rapp” and the name of the scholarship you wish to support on the memo line. Checks may be mailed to UMD Development, 104 Darland Administration Building, 1049 University Drive, Duluth, MN 55812. For assistance, contact Carrie Sutherland at 218-726-6984 or

Or you may use these online giving links:

Fund 3996 Rip Rapp Geology Field Camp Scholarship

Fund 21285 Rip Rapp Scholarship in Engineering

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