Native by Chance, Returned by Choice: Dr. John Rippy


Sometimes the road home is long and winding. Dr. John Rippy knows. He trekked through the mountains of Wyoming and the rolling hills of south central Pennsylvania before finding his way back to Gallatin. After graduation from Gallatin High School in 1997, John attended the University of Tennessee–Chattanooga. During summer breaks, he lived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and earned money guiding raft trips on the Snake River in the Grand Tetons National Park. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in economics and moved to Breckenridge, Colorado to work in a job auditing the financial records of ski resorts. “I got tired of that real fast,” John remembers, “so after one year I resigned and drove back to Gallatin without a plan.” It was 2002. Knowing he wanted to pursue another career path, John considered his options. When his father, Dr. B.J. Rippy, suggested John consider dentistry, it sounded like a good plan. Dr. B.J. Rippy had launched Rippy Family Dentistry 30 years earlier and John had helped with administrative tasks throughout high school. Dentistry was practically the family business. When dad retired, son would takeover the practice.John began the journey to dental school at Volunteer State Community College where he completed prerequisite courses. After finishing the Doctor of Dental Surgery program at the University of Tennessee’s Health Science Center in Memphis, John intended to return to Gallatin. There was just one problem. His father wasn’t quite ready to retire. “My wife was from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, a small town near Gettysburg, so we moved there,” says John, who found work as a dentist in a Federally Qualified Health Center that provided comprehensive care to underserved and uninsured patients.After three years in Pennsylvania, John and his wife were considering the possibility of settling in Chambersburg. “I was on the verge of buying a dental practice when Dad finally called and said he was ready to retire,” remembers John. So, in 2013, John returned to Gallatin. “I dragged my wife away from her hometown to come back to mine,” he says. “It was a big change for her. At first, I wasn’t sure she would be willing to stay. Now, she loves it here so much there’s no going back.” What's it like to come back to your hometown?  "It's exciting running into people I grew up with,” he says. “Everyone knows who I am and that’s nice. You come back and then you realize that this is where you're supposed to be.”