John Henry Tripler, 66
John Henry “Hank” Tripler passed away peacefully at Scallop Shell Nursing Home in Wakefield, R.I. four days before his 67th birthday and after a long battle with ALS. He was born Jan. 24, 1953 in Riverside, Calif. on March Airforce Base and spent his childhood visiting Block Island at the home of his grandparents, Harold and Mabel Tripler. John Henry moved to Block Island at the age of 18 after graduating Northport High School in Northport, N.Y. He quickly ingrained himself in island life and made many lifelong friends and people he considered family. He worked for quite some time with Stan Wiggins, until Stan retired and passed the plumbing business onto him in the late 1980s.
John Henry was a fixture among the music scene on Block Island from the 70s right up until he could no longer play, even then he loved to watch The Booze Beggars play and watch band documentaries on repeat. He was in several bands and offshoots of those bands throughout his life on island; most notably The Liquid Plumbers and Block Island Sound. He was always quick with a joke and loved to make people laugh. Even up until the end he was telling jokes to the nursing staff at Scallop Shell. He was gregarious and loved to throw a good rock and roll party to bring everyone together for some dancing and a good time. John Henry was an avid history buff and loved to travel. He, along with a group of friends, set out to watch a baseball game in as many U.S. stadiums as they could; we believe he lost count. You’d have to ask Adrian Mitchell for the exact count! He visited Russia and France to explore battle sites and made it a frequent habit to stop off at southern Civil War battle sites when road-tripping with his family. He and his brother, George, were able to complete two cross-country road trips in the last year.
John Henry was predeceased by his parents George M. and Vera (Bonn) Tripler of Northport, N.Y. He leaves behind his sisters and their spouses; Jane and Alan Watkins (Apalachin, N.Y.), Judy and Larry Katz (Tabernacle, N.J.) and Allison and Dave Garelle (Northport, N.Y.), his brother George Tripler (Ridge, N.Y.), his children, Emily (Providence, R.I.), Colin (Block Island) and James (Providence, R.I.), the mother of his children and lifelong friend, Charlene Sprague Tripler, his beloved grandson, Rowan Fox Tripler and many, many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends that have become his family.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in John Henry’s name to Block Island School music program or the ALS Therapy Development Institute.
John Henry loved teaching the island kids how to play guitar and he would love to see the music program on his beloved island thrive. A memorial service will be planned for a later date on Block Island where one and all can come celebrate the life of the self-proclaimed “greatest rock guitarist ever.”