He was born March 17, 1936 in Trego County, Kansas the son of Philip Arthur and Rosa Carolina (Deines) Rumpel. After attending grade school and middle school in a one room schoolhouse near Ogallah, Kansas, he graduated from Trego Community High School, WaKeeney, in 1953. He earned his A.B. degree in chemistry and mathematics from what was then Fort Hays Kansas State College in 1957. While at Fort Hays, he was the recipient of numerous scholarships and honors.
In order to help pay for school, he worked at the Hays Flour Mill and at the Hays Pathology Laboratory while earning his undergraduate degree. On the basis of his scholastic achievements at Fort Hays, he was recruited by the University of Kansas Chemistry Department for graduate study where he completed his PhD in Inorganic Chemistry in 1961. While at the University of Kansas, he was awarded a National Science Foundation Fellowship to pursue his research, developed his passion for teaching chemistry, and met the love of his life, fellow chemistry teaching assistant Joan Hubbell.
On August 26, 1961 he married Joan Celia Hubbell in New York. Together they celebrated nearly 54 years of marriage until she preceded him in death in May of 2015. Upon completion of his doctoral studies and marriage to Joan, he returned to Western Kansas where he joined the faculty of the Chemistry Department at Fort Hays State in the fall of 1961. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1965, full Professor in 1968 and served as Chair of the Chemistry Department for 16 years from 1972 until 1988. He returned to teaching full-time until his retirement in 2010. He was awarded Professor Emeritus status in 2010 and continued to participate in the activities of the Department until he was no longer capable due to his illness.
Over the course of his 49 year tenure, he taught introductory, inorganic, and physical chemistry to thousands of students. He was the department’s resident expert in the art of glassblowing, and he had a keen interest in the use of computers and technology in undergraduate instruction. He served as the faculty advisor of the FHSU Chemistry Club for over 20 years and was very active in the local Sigma Xi chapter. He also mentored a number of graduate students and published papers in the field of inorganic chemistry and the use of computers and programmable devices in teaching labs. He received National Science Foundation research awards to conduct research at the University of Colorado in 1965 and Washington State University in 1971. He and FHSU colleague Dr. Edmund Shearer were recipients of NSF grants to improve the equipment and technology in the chemistry laboratories at FHSU. He enjoyed hosting the chemistry labs for the Boy Scouts’ annual Chuck Howard Memorial Campus Camporee at FHSU. He loved working in the lab and was a teacher first, taking great pride in the students he taught, advised and mentored during his career.
Dr. Rumpel was a member of the following honorary societies; Kappa Mu Epsilon (national mathematics honorary fraternity), Phi Kappa Phi (national honorary scholarship society), Delta Epsilon (national science honorary fraternity), Sigma Pi Sigma (national honorary physics fraternity), the Fort Hays State Honors Program, Seventh Cavalry (FHSU service honorary), and Phi Lambda Upsilon (national honorary chemical society). He was a member of the following professional societies; American Chemical Society Division of Chemical Education, Sigma Xi scientific research society, and the Kansas Academy of Science. He was an active runner and bicyclist, enjoyed playing tennis, and was an avid reader of science fiction. He and Joan were fixtures at Fort Hays State athletic events of all kinds and at Hays Larks baseball games. They were frequent travelers, driving all over the US and Canada to visit their children and grandchildren, relatives, friends, national parks and historical sites. He was well known for his dry, sarcastic sense of humor and his puns.
Survivors include a son; Craig Rumpel of Charlottesville, VA, a daughter; Karen Rumpel-Lopez and her husband Bart of Riverside, CA, two grandchildren; Michael Lopez and Alexis Lopez of Riverside, CA, and two brothers; James Alan Rumpel and wife Janet of Goodland, KS, and Philip Russell Rumpel of Cheyenne, WY.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Joan, and a brother; Sidney Wayne Rumpel.
The family will be present for public visitation from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at the Hays Memorial Chapel Funeral Home, 1906 Pine Street. Private family graveside services will be held at the St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery north of Ellis, Kansas. A memorial service will be announced and will occur this summer.
Memorials are suggested to the Dr. Max L. Rumpel Scholarship Fund for the Chemistry Department at Fort Hays State University, in care of the FHSU Foundation, Robbins Center, One Tiger Place, Hays, Kansas 67601. Condolences may be left for the family at www.haysmemorial.com.