Dynamic, strong-willed, dogmatic - that's how friends described breast cancer survivor and local breast cancer awareness advocate Bobbi Van Riper.
Van Riper, who was born in New Jersey, died Sunday after battling pancreatic cancer. She was 69.
She had beaten breast cancer almost two decades ago, and had since committed herself to helping other survivors and patients feel and look their best through In Care of You, a downtown Colorado Springs medical boutique she opened in 2003, after leaving a high-paying job as an IBM sales executive.
"We joked that if we could get ourselves out of business, that would be our goal," said friend Aida Richardson, a trustees for In Care of You. Van Riper's brother Ken, also is a trustee. Her dog Mya, a little white Maltese that was fixure of the store for several years, is in the care of a friend.
Van Riper founded the store after observing that women needed a one-stop shop for wigs, scarves, compression garments, hats, mastectomy bras and perhaps most importantly, support. Richardson said that the plan is to keep the store going, because it's what Van Riper would have wanted. "She always said that if you look great, you feel better," said Richardson, also a breast cancer survior.
Van Riper was a a fan of facials, and on the rare occasion she walked out the door without makeup she was heading to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, an event she volunteered at for more than 15 years.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996, she worked with both the Denver and Southeastern Colorado affiliates of Susan G. Komen in various roles.
In Colorado Springs, she served as the executive race chairwoman from 2007 to 2009, and helped establish Garden of the Gods as the new race venue in 2007. In 2008, the southeastern affiliate had the most successful race in its history under her leadership, raising more than $704,000
"She was very strong woman, with strong convictions and a passion to advocate for breast cancer." said Richardson. "In many ways, she touched many amazing women."
Even when was sick, Richardson said, Van Riper managed to give her a hard time about the haircut she kept putting off.
"It was just typical Bobbi," she said.
A memorial service will be held for Bobbi Van Riper at 2 p.m. Nov. 22 at First Presbyterian Church, 219 E. Bijou St.