WILMINGTON – The Wilmington Chamber of Commerce will be recognizing Robert S. Rippy, owner of Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park as the 2021 recipient of the Duke Energy Lifetime Achievement in Business Award at their 154th Annual Meeting on Thursday, February 25.

The Duke Energy Lifetime Achievement in Business Award recognizes a local business leader who best represents sustained achievement and business longevity throughout a distinguished career. Winners have demonstrated a strong connection to the local economy, to the community, and they’ve inspired others to achieve similar success.

After graduating from East Carolina University in 1975, Bob Rippy’s first entrepreneurial endeavor was a successful self-service car wash company in eastern North Carolina. He’d go on to spend the next 15 years on Wall Street, first as a stockbroker and eventually working in marketing and finance roles.

Since opening Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park in 1997, the family entertainment center has grown to include a water park with a million-gallon wave pool, dual-lane speed slides, a lazy river, and a 7000 square foot kiddie pool. Other park features include mini-golf, laser tag, go-karts, bumper cars, a rock-climbing wall, arcade, and indoor playground. Bob has said, “I have the best job in the world. I get to be the King of Fun in Wilmington.”

Bob became a fixture in the Wilmington community as a business leader and for his commitment to community service. He currently serves on the UNCW Board of Trustees. He has also served on the University of North Carolina Board of Governors (2013-2017), Cape Fear Community College Foundation Board of Directors, and the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. He’s volunteered on the UNC-Wilmington School of Business Advisory Board and the UNCW Entrepreneurial Advisory Board. He is a past Chairman of the Cape Fear Community College Board of Trustees, Cape Fear Visitors Bureau, Wilmington International Airport Authority, and Friends of Airlie Gardens. He’s also volunteered as President of the Cape Fear Council of Boy Scouts of America and has been a Ducks Unlimited member since 1978. 

Bob Rippy has also been an active member of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions for over 20 years. As a Board member, he served on numerous committees, including long-range planning, membership development, government relations, and more. He led the organization as Chairman of the Board in 2011. 

Additionally, the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce is proud to recognize Melissa Taylor of Cape Fear Elementary School in Pender County and Jordan McEwen of Roland Grise Middle School in New Hanover County as the Corning STEM Educators of the Year.

The Corning STEM Educator of the Year Award provides an opportunity to recognize educators who excel by engaging students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) both in the classroom and in the community. These educators implement innovative, inquiry-based programs that address real-world problems. Our winners are local educators who focus on developing critical problem-solving skills and inspiring their students to pursue STEM fields vital to Corning and Wilmington’s future.

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