Frank Tripepi, who was born in Dearborn, Michigan in 1947, is a leader in civic management and a longtime member of the Rose Institute of State and Local Government Board of Governors. He passed away on Sunday, June 19, 2022, at the age of 74.
Frank joined the Rose Institute board in 2008, bringing with him a wealth of experience in local government. He provided wise guidance to directors and staff, as well as generous mentorship to student researchers.
He served as the city manager of the City of Rosemead for nearly 28 years, between 1974 and 2002—an unusually long and successful tenure in that position. He then moved to the private sector to become president and CEO of Willdan Financial, and, later, Willdan’s Senior Vice President of Business Development. He also briefly returned to public service in 2008-2009, when he was the interim city manager for the City of La Puente.
Frank was widely respected for his expertise in local government and for his professional contributions to the San Gabriel Valley and greater Southern California. He also was well known for his mentorship and encouragement of emerging leaders in the field, earning the reputation as the “Godfather of city managers.”
Before launching his career in local government, Frank served heroically in the Vietnam War. After being drafted into the Army in 1969, he was deployed in Vietnam and Cambodia as a Field Artillery Operation and Intelligence Assistant. He led many night missions at firebases. In 1971, while stationed at a gun tower, Frank was attacked, fell 45 feet, and suffered severe wounds. He survived these injuries and made a long and difficult recovery. For his heroic service, Frank was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, and the Good Service Medal.
Earlier this year, the California City Management Foundation honored Frank at its Annual Member Appreciation Dinner. The honor focused on Frank’s military service and his distinguished career in local government.
Frank leaves behind a loving family, including his wife Rhonda, daughter Nicole (Tripepi) Smith (CMC ’96), son-in-law Ryder Todd Smith (CMC ’96), the chair of the Rose Institute Board of Governors, granddaughter Reagan Smith, sister Valentina Shoop and brother-in-law Ron Shoop, as well as countless friends and colleagues who benefitted greatly from knowing this good man.
We will miss him.