Longtime State Capitol administrator retires amid report of ‘altercation’

By: - March 10, 2023 11:11 am
Nebraska State Capitol Building

The Sower atop the Nebraska State Capitol (Rebecca S. Gratz for Nebraska Examiner)

LINCOLN — Bob Ripley, who has worked more than 40 years to preserve the Nebraska State Capitol, has retired amid an allegation that he went too far in protecting the historic building.

Ripley, in a statement provided Friday to the Nebraska Examiner, did not address the allegation, saying that he was retiring with “mixed emotions.”

Bob Ripley
Bob Ripley, Nebraska State Capitol administrator (Courtesy of Nebraska Capitol Commission)

He served eight governors, beginning with Gov. J.J. Exon in 1975.

Fortunate to serve

Ripley said he felt fortunate to have served as the “steward of this magnificent statehouse,” which is a National Historic Landmark.

 “My retirement comes at a time when the current building project is well underway and some ongoing family issues demand my full attention,” he said. “It’s been my mission to leave our landmark capitol and its environs in better condition than when I started so many years ago.”

A spokesman with the Governor’s Office also confirmed that Ripley had stepped down but had no information about a temporary replacement. Ripley, a decorated architect, was paid $101,000 a year.

The resignation comes after a worker who was setting up Saturday for the annual Statehood Day Dinner in the Capitol Rotunda accused the Capitol administrator of touching her during an argument over proper procedures.

Job was to protect Capitol

Part of Ripley’s job, as manager of the Capitol, is to assure that the structure is not damaged during events such as the dinner, the only banquet held in the building.

He has also overseen multimillion-dollar renovation projects involving the Capitol’s exterior and interior in recent years.

The unique, skyscraper State Capitol is filled with mosaics, murals, statues and other artwork that tells the history of Nebraska and of democracy.

Suspended with pay

The structure was completed in 1932. Its golden domed tower, topped with a statue of “The Sower,” looms over the landscape in Lincoln.

Prior to his resignation, Ripley had been suspended with pay pending the completion of the probe by the Nebraska State Patrol. A report of an incident was filed with the Patrol Saturday morning, as crews were setting up for the Statehood Day Dinner. A Patrol spokesman said Friday the probe was ongoing and would be forwarded to the Lancaster County Attorney when completed.

The event draws about 350 people and is sponsored by the Nebraskaland Foundation. It draws a wide array of dignitaries and political leaders of the state for a program to fete outstanding Nebraskans.

Grease spots on floor

Grease spots could be seen Thursday in one hallway, as well as a smudge-like streak across one of the mosaics on the floor.

In 2015, Ripley was awarded the Harry F. Cunningham Gold Medal for Architectural Excellence in the State of Nebraska, the highest honor given by the Nebraska Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

It is awarded for the most distinguished achievement in architecture or service to the profession of architecture in Nebraska, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

That same year Ripley was admitted as a member of the American Institute of Architects’ prestigious College of Fellows, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.


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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska state government for decades. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation, a member of the Nebraska Hop Growers and a volunteer caretaker of Irvingdale Park in Lincoln.