Brigadier General John Clayton Reppert, U.S. Army (Ret) passed away peacefully at his daughter’s home in Delaware, OH surrounded by his loving family on October 11, 2019 at the age of 78. His life was a testament to the things he cherished most – his family and friends, God, and our great country.
John was born on September 16, 1941 in Anna, IL to Lewida Corrine Richards and Henry Clay Reppert. He enjoyed playing football for the Anna-Jonesboro Wildcats and working at the family owned newspaper, The Gazette-Democrat. At Kansas State, he met the love of his life, Patricia Ann Rash and majored in Journalism while serving as the Editor of the school paper and President of his fraternity, Beta Theta Pi. He completed his undergraduate studies and an MS degree in Journalism, with the intention of returning to live in Anna and serve as the editor of The Gazette-Democrat. A short while after marrying Pat and settling in Anna, the Army offered him the unique opportunity to travel abroad. John was drafted as a 25 year old private and sent to Officer Candidate School before serving in Vietnam as a Signal Corps officer.
John proudly served in the Army from 1966 to 1998. He channeled his love of learning into a career focused on the former Soviet Union. He obtained an MA degree from the University of Kansas, in Soviet Studies and a Ph. D. degree in International Relations from George Washington University. His desire to learn and teach led him to programs at Harvard, West Point, Army War College, Navy War College, Armed Forces Staff Colleges, the Defense Language Institute, the Defense Intelligence School, and his launching of classroom instructions for enlisted soldiers in Korea and Russia. John was either a teacher or a student for 30 of his 33 years of military service.
John excelled in foreign languages and became fluent in Russian, often serving as an interpreter for senior officials. While at Fort Bragg, he commanded an Airborne battalion. As a Foreign Area Officer (FAO), John and his family lived in Germany for five years and he was assigned three times to the US Embassy in Moscow, culminating in the position of Defense Attaché. In that capacity, John played a key role in shaping American military policy and in providing advice to the military and political leaders who emerged from the new countries that were formed with the collapse of the Soviet Union. John’s last assignment was as Director of the Onsite Inspection Agency, which was responsible for monitoring Russia’s destruction of nuclear weapons, in accordance with agreed upon treaties. John earned numerous awards and medals for his service, including the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Bronze Star.
Following his retirement from the Army, John served as the Executive Director for Research at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. John organized conferences and visits with leaders from all around the world. He was interviewed frequently by radio and TV shows, drawing on his expertise of security issues. John was selected for membership in the Council on Foreign Relations.
After Harvard, John served twice as the Dean of the College of International and Security Studies, Marshall European Center in Garmisch, Germany. There, John was in a position to mentor future FAOs, as well as officers from other countries. John was beloved by the faculty and students for his servant-based leadership style. Based on his career accomplishments, John is one of only 86 Beta Theta Pi members in the history of the fraternity to be awarded the Oxford Cup.
Throughout his 26 moves, John took every opportunity to participate in each of the local Presbyterian churches. He was involved as a Sunday School teacher, service reader, and gave the occasional guest sermon. He was a long-standing member of Arlington Presbyterian Church, where each of his children had their weddings.
John ultimately retired in St. Pete Beach, FL, where he and Pat became active members of the Academy of Senior Professional (ASPEC), based at Eckerd college. John gave presentations to ASPEC members on an almost weekly basis, with topics ranging from current international events to his experiences in Russia and other countries. John proudly served as President of ASPEC for two years.
John was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. He spent his final years caring for his wife Pat, as she dealt with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. John is survived by his daughter Dawn and her husband Aaron, and his son Scott and his wife Lisa, brothers Joe and Jerry, and his ten grandchildren Thomas, Naomi Ruth, Clayton, Rebekah, Margaux, Hannah, Miriam, Susanna, Benjamin, and Mathew.
Visitation will be at Rendleman and Hileman Funeral Home in Anna from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, November 2.
Memorial services will be held on Saturday, November 2 at 2:00 p.m. at First Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Anna, IL. In lieu of flowers, donations can made in memory of John to the Alzheimer’s Association (act.alz.org).