As a longtime Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools athletics director and a national award-winning head groundskeeper, Ray Cipperly essentially lived a double life.
For that reason, Cipperly, who died Sunday, according to Greater Middlesex Conference President Carl Buffalino, will be doubly missed.
“The GMC lost a great person today,” Buffalino said of Cipperly, who, as a founding father of the league, was instrumental in its creation 30 years ago.
Cipperly not only designed the baseball field at East Brunswick Tech, which the National High School Baseball Coaches Association named Diamond of the Year in 1996, he also worked for 16 years as head groundskeeper for the Somerset Patriots and Trenton Thunder.
Somerset Patriots owner Steve Kalafer called Cipperly a “compulsive perfectionist,” noting that Joe Torre and Don Zimmer, upon visiting TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, raved about the condition of the field Cipperly painstakingly manicured.
“They said, ‘With all due respect for Yankee Stadium, which is fabulous, this is a major-league field of Yankee Stadium quality,’ ” Kalafer recalled. “Many people may not always remember the names and the numbers of our ballplayers, but they remember the first time they walked into TD Bank Ballpark, saw the field and said, ‘This is perfect.’ Ray set the standard for Dan Purner, his successor, who learned from Ray and has taken everything Ray has taught him and expanded upon it.”
Kalafer said the Somerset Patriots, who this month won their sixth Atlantic League championship and whose stadium Ballpark Digest recently named Best Independent Minor League Ballpark in the nation, will pay tribute to Cipperly at the start of the 2016 campaign.
“At the beginning of next year, we will memorialize Ray and have the Cipperly family out so that everybody will know that this field was started and maintained during his legacy,” said Kalafer, noting that Cipperly’s years of work on the Patriots’ field played a role in Somerset’s recent recognition from Ballpark Digest.
“Ray’s memory will live on,” Kalafer said, “and his work will live on."
Cipperly was predeceased by his parents, Wilbur and Dorothy (Jennings) Cipperly. He is survived by his wife of 27 years, Susan (Pasacano) Cipperly of Monroe; his daughter, Lauren Cipperly of New York City; his sister, Diane Hermenau, and her husband, Edward, of North Attleboro, Massachusetts; his uncle, Raymond Graham; his mother-in-law, Mary (Vargo) Pasacano of Perth Amboy; his sister-in-law, Cindy Kellenberger, and her husband, Robert, of Caldwell; three nieces; one nephew; several cousins; and other extended family members.
Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the M. David DeMarco Funeral Home, 205 Rhode Hall Road, Monroe (732-521-0555, www.demarcofuneralhome.com). Funeral services will begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home. A funeral liturgy will be celebrated at 10 a.m. at St. James the Less R.C. Church, Jamesburg, followed by interment in the parish cemetery, Monroe.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital at www.stjude.org. See more at: http://www.demarcofuneralhome.com/obituary/Raymond-J.-Cipperly/Monroe-Township-NJ/1551095#sthash.OE9psKNX.dpuf.