Tom Raper, a longtime friend and devoted supporter of Indiana University East, passed away April 14, 2015, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
IU East Chancellor Kathryn Cruz-Uribe said that Tom believed in the importance of higher education to improve the lives of those living in Wayne County and throughout the region. He had a long-established history with the university including providing student scholarships, serving on the IU East Board of Advisors, and gifting IU East with the largest donation in its 44-year history.
“Tom was a devoted supporter of our students, the campus and the Wayne County community. He was mindful of our students needs and he strived to help them meet those challenges through his philanthropic support,” Cruz-Uribe said. “We are very saddened to hear of Tom’s passing. We are thinking of his wife Suzanne and his family.”
In 2009, Tom and Suzanne announced that they would continue to support the campus through a $2.17 million gift. IU East renamed Tom Raper Hall in honor of their unprecedented commitment to the campus. Through their exceptional generosity, Tom and Suzanne enabled IU East to provide an even higher level of knowledge, economic development, and culture for the residents in east central Indiana and west central Ohio.
For two decades, Tom supported the Tom Raper Scholarship to benefit hardworking, deserving students who are committed to building their success in east central Indiana. He has contributed to the endowment established in his name, providing over 90 scholarships in the past 15 years.
Tom has served on the IU East Board of Advisors since 1993.
Tom brought national recognition to Richmond, Ind., by building the nation’s largest recreational vehicle dealership, Tom Raper RVs. From humble beginnings with a used car lot of fewer than ten cars in 1964, Raper grew the business into a 60-acre complex in Richmond with 275 employees and a worldwide customer base. In 2002, he sold the business to Dave Bane. Today, it is now owned by Camping World.