Ripplinger was born and raised in Ogden, Utah. He took piano lessons, sang in school choirs and played instruments in bands and orchestras throughout his childhood. After graduating from Ogden High School in 1945, Ripplinger served for two years in the Merchant Marines. Upon his return, he was called as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Toronto, Canada. It was during his mission that he develop a serious interest in music that would influence his education and career.
Following his mission to Canada, Ripplinger attended Weber (a junior college at the time) and received an associate's degree in music in 1951.
He then transfered to BYU and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Music Education in August 1954. At BYU, he studied under faculty including Crawford Gates, Leon Dallin, Newell Weight, Lawrence Sardoni, Ralph Laycock, Harold Laycock, Norman Gulbrandsen, Florence Jepperson Madsen, John Halliday and Dick Ballou.
Ripplinger received a master's degree in music from the University of Utah in 1965. He also earned his PhD in Public School Administration from the U in 1968.
Following his graduation from BYU, Ripplinger accepted a teaching position at Beaver High School in Utah, where he taught band, choir, general music and a civics class. The following year he took a job at Olympus Junior High in Salt Lake City and then in 1961 began teaching at Skyline High School, also in Salt Lake City.
In 1970, Ripplinger left his job at Skyline to accept a position at the University of Wisconsin at Steven's Point, where he was chairman of music education, choral director and head of the graduate School of Music.
In 1975 Ripplinger was hired by the BYU School of Music, where he taught until 1990. His teaching assignments included choral methods, choral literature, student teaching supervision and conducting. He also directed the University Chorale for a couple of years.
Following his tenure at BYU, he served as the Associate Director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He retired from that position in 1995.
While at Weber, Ripplinger met Myra and the two were married in September 1950. The family has been active in musical endeavors and church service. Ripplinger has served in bishoprics, a district presidency, on the high council and as a counselor in the Johannesberg South Africa mission presidency.