Frederick J. Ruopp has been a member of the Thomas Aquinas College Board of Governors since 1982 and served as its chairman from 1986 to 1992. One of the nation’s top-rated money managers, he has lent his vast expertise in financial concerns in overseeing the College’s budget and financial affairs.

Mr. Ruopp has been featured in Kiplinger’s as one of 20 elite money managers who have teamed up with to offer portfolio management services to investors with accounts that previously were too small to interest a top-flight money manager. Mr. Ruopp and his colleages have risk-adjusted rates of return that rank them in the top quartile of their peers, as measured by Nelson’s Money Manager Review.

Why would this top-flight money manager have an interest in a small Catholic liberal arts school? “Books,” he says. “I was born and bred on books.”

Growing up in Elmhurst, Ill., Mr. Ruopp’s parents used to drag the whole family — Fred, his brother, and two sisters — to the town library twice a week to check out books. They were expected to read them. “It was just something we always did.” Indeed, the habit endured and he would read two books a week as a matter of course.

After graduating from high school, Mr. Ruopp enrolled in Elmhurst College, dabbling in general business courses and the liberal arts. He found he had a knack for the business courses, and after two years, transferred to the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, where he became a finance major, earning a bachelor of science, banking and finance degree with honors in 1952. He also became a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, the scholastic honorary society in business, to which he still belongs.

With the Korean War then in full swing, Mr. Ruopp did a 13-month tour in Korea with an Army artillery battery unit. He returned to Chicago and got a job in the trust division of the First National Bank of Chicago. At the same time, he started pursuing a Masters of Business Administration in Finance at Kellogg School of Northwestern University. He met a charming young lady who typed his thesis for him, Joyce Bowker. They married the following year and raised two sons, Frederick, Jr., and Christopher.

With his MBA in finance in hand, Mr. Ruopp started rising through the trust division of the bank to become a senior portfolio manager, handling a large share of pension and profit-sharing trusts. In 1963, he and Joyce decided to move to warmer climes, and they picked California.

Mr. Ruopp took a job with the old Crocker Citizens Bank, doing trust and investment work, and soon thereafter was hired as a senior analyst and portfolio manager for the Occidental Life Insurance Company (which later became Transamerica). Six years later, he was recruited to Lehman Brothers’ New York City office to manage the accounts of the firm’s partners and those of their families.

But in 1971, after getting some Wall Street experience under his belt, and with about $9 million in asset management in tow, he decided to return to California and, along with a friend from Occidental, opened Chelsea Management Co. The firm services a wide variety of clients, including insurance companies, pensions, profit-sharing accounts, and charitable trusts, from New York to Hawaii. Mr. Ruopp served as president of the organization until 1994, when he became its chairman and chief executive officer, which he remains today.

Mr. Ruopp is a Chartered Financial Analyst, a Chartered Investment Counselor, and a member of the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts, the Los Angeles Financial Analysts Society, and the Investment Counsel Association of America. He was awarded Senior Security Analyst designation by the New York Society of Security Analysts. He is also director of several corporations.

Mr. Ruopp’s move to sunny California affected the rest of his family from the Midwest. His three siblings and their families, as well as his parents, have relocated near him. His wife, Joyce, however, passed away in 1998.