The man who guided Ocean County through decades of Nor'easters, blizzards and most recently Hurricane Irene has died.
Ocean County Undersheriff Wayne R. Rupert, 68, died at his Pennsylvania vacation home over the weekend after he apparently fell from the roof, Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari said today.
"He was a quiet, sensitive man," Vicari said. "A true gentleman. His main concern was the safety of the people of Ocean County."
Rupert was preparing his mobile home for the upcoming winter when he fell from the roof. It's still unclear whether the fall was an accident or if Rupert had a medical problem, Vicari said.
Rupert had served as Ocean County Undersheriff for more than a decade. But he also helped coordinate Ocean County emergency management operations for many years.
Anytime a coastal storm or hurricane threatened Ocean County, Rupert could be found hunkered over the "Hurrevac" — a computer used to track storms — at the Ocean County Emergency Management headquarters at in Berkeley Township.
Rupert was one of the county officials who made the decision on whether residents should during a storm. He never took that responsibility lightly.
"First of all, you don't want to drown anybody," he told me in an interview with the Asbury Park Press in the late 1990s. "You want to get everyone out of harm's way. Number two, you want to be right. You want them to believe you the next time. I've always been cautious about pulling this trigger. But if I'm going to make a mistake, I'd rather make one, so nobody gets hurt."