|February 8, 1942 - April 10, 2015
Ralph was born in Redding, Pennsylvania. He graduated from West Reading High School, class of 1960. Ralph met and married JoAnne in West Reading,
Pennsylvania April 14, 1962.
Ralph served in the Air Force as a member of the Military Police and was stationed in Maine for two years and Okinawa, Japan for two years.
Ralph and JoAnne became members of SAMOA February 1993. In 1997 Ralph was elected Events Coordinator and again in 2003. His enthusiasm for life and
SAMOA were evident in his many years of organizing trips for the club. Some of the events were: Brunch at the Grand Island Inn in Ryde which was followed by
a golf tournament in the pear orchards or kite flying on the lawn, he led 19 Miatas to swarm the Auburn In & Out Burger drive-through, led many wine tours and
tasting events, helped with the Chili cook-off, was the cook at SAMOA picnics, led the group around Lake Tahoe which stopped for lunch at Jake’s on the Lake
followed by miniature golf, hosted numerous Christmas parties at McClellan Lion’s Gate, worker for the Gold Rush events, and 3 years of Hair in the Wind which
he developed to allow vision impaired individuals to ride in a Miata. At one point Ralph and JoAnne began leading the group for the Annual Ft. Bragg Run, which is
SAMOA’s longest running event. He was well known for his food preparation and contributions.
In October 2010 at the SAMOA 20th Anniversary, Ralph and JoAnne were given Lifetime Membership status in recognition of 18 years of membership.
Ralph you will be missed by the many members you had contact with, shared stories with and enjoyed driving or riding in your Miata with.
Wayne and Michelle Thomas, April 10
Dear Family and Friends of Ralph: The thing we remember the most about Ralph was his enthusiasm for the Miata club. We were members some time back and I
can specifically remember him being very involved. It didn’t surprise me at all to see him this year when Wayne and I rejoined the club. The most recent time we
saw him was at the March 2015 SAMOA meeting where he was so happy to be announcing the “Hair in the Wind” event. I’m glad to know the event will still
continue as planned, as a heartfelt memorial to him. We wish his family strength as they move through this difficult time.
Ron Petrich, April 10
Joanne: It is with great sadness that I am informed of Ralph’s passing. Ralph was (and will remain) a pillar of both the club and of humanity. He is an inspiration
to all who strive to overcome physical and emotional challenges. That Ralph did it with such grace and dignity is a testament to both of you.
My most distant memory of Ralph is when we first talked in depth about ourselves. It was an event in 1999 led by another SAMOA member now passed, Jim
Savoy. At the time Ralph was driving your 1999 (I think) Miata (white?) with the automatic. We went on a wine tasting tour to Napa and Sonoma, and at lunch
even then Ralph knew that someday he would be physically handicapped by his diabetes. And yet he was very stoic and matter-of-fact about these circumstances,
and chose to enjoy the time he had remaining to drive (like a bat out of hell as we put it) his Miata. And now we are saddened that both Ralph and Jim are no longer
with us - physically.
I also remember when you two bought your current NC Miata from Elk Grove. I still had my S2000 but was leaning toward an NC. You two were so excited
about finally being back in the fold that I went to Elk Grove that very week to price a new Miata. I ended up buying from Maita Mazda, but Ralph’s joy of once
again owning a Miata was infectious.
I hope and pray that Ralph is with the angels in heaven now. I know he is, and he is wishing us all to go on and live our lives courageously as he did. God bless the
both of you and your families. I will be making a donation to the Lion’s Club in Ralph’s name this week.
Jim and Jackie McClure, April 11
Every time Jim and I would see Ralph we were in awe of his spunkiness, humor, and positive attitude. In other words he was our hero!! We were amazed that he
cooked (love his cheese bread). He got a hunger for corned beef and cabbage last spring and was telling me how he prepared it. Or the time he thought he would
help JoAnne with the new car and backed it down the driveway and killed their garbage can. The fact that he always was planning a project or participating in a
race or giving a speech was inspiring and amazing. He loved to educate and inform people about dealing with blindness or being an amputee. Nothing seemed to
hold him back. We will miss him, but always remember to take every day as a gift and not grumble about what's going wrong. Thank you Ralph.
Fran Rowell, April 11
One of my favorite memories of Ralph is the first time I met him. It was my first run with the club in 1997 on the way to Fort Bragg. At Clear Lake I had gotten
behind a truck pulling a fishing boat and was fearful that I had lost the group. As I approached the big hill leaving the lake, here was a red Miata on top of the hill
with a long arm hanging out waving me on around the boat. At the cottage that evening, I found out that arm belonged to Ralph and he didn't even give me a hard
time about the encouragement he had given me to pass the boat. That was Ralph, always caring that everyone had a good time.
We planned several runs together and always had a good time doing it. Life had many obstacles for Ralph but he never let them get him down. I will always admire
his fortitude and will miss my friend.
Jeanne George, April 11
March 1997, Robin and I joined SAMOA and attended our first Club meeting. Ralph was the Events Coordinator and seeing that we were new faces he introduced
himself. The next year Ralph pressured me into running for 1999 Events Coordinator. His comment to convince me was “You can’t do any worse than me!”
After Ralph had is first leg amputation, I visited him in the rehab center and was amazed by his positive attitude. I brought him 2 SAMOA baseball hats instead of
flowers. He told me “I’ll use these to keep the bright lights out of my eyes”. The next day Ralph called me asking for a favor: “Will you pick me up from the rehab
center and take me to the SAMOA meeting?” I thought he was kidding me; but he wasn’t. A PT person explained how to aid Ralph and loaded him in my car. He
talked non-stop and then guided me how to get him unloaded from my car. We went inside CoCo’s Restaurant and I asked him where he wanted to sit. His reply
“I want to sit up front with my back to the front of the room and my stump under the table. So when people ask me how I’m doing I can roll out my stump and
say I lost my leg!” And he did exactly that many times that night. When I took him back to rehab he said that had been the thing that he needed to keep on going.
June 2009, Robin and I were leading a Full Moon Run by the airport. During the safety talk I fell but didn’t know that I had broken by ankle and 4 foot bones. We
headed out on the drive and got the group to our waiting location. People were putting out their chairs and bringing out snacks and beverages. Ralph had recently
got his new prosthesis. He saw me hobbling around and sent JoAnne over to me with his walker. She said, “Here, Ralph says you need this more than he does.”
The Fall of 2010, SAMOA meetings were held at Celia’s Mexican Restaurant in Rancho Cordova. Ralph’s eyesight had deteriorated and he was taking ParaTransit
to the meetings. After the meeting, Robin and I were loading all the meeting stuff in our car and I noticed Ralph was still there waiting. He said PT was running
late. Robin went to talk to some members and I went to sit with Ralph. I told him “Ralph, I don’t want you sitting in the dark by yourself so I’ll wait with you.”
He laughed and said “Jeanne, I’m always in the dark!”
I treasure the many memories of Ralph’s friendship, courage, sense of humor and the positive look on life that he had despite his many challenges. I’m proud to
have known him. He will be greatly missed by many.
Diana Loo and Chris Christainson, April 14
I enjoyed working with Ralph on the various events that he organized. He was always enthusiastic and wanted to make sure that it was an event that everyone
would enjoy. The most memorable event was the Lake Tahoe Run. I loved the miniature golf game. It was so much fun to play the men against the women. And
of course, his garlic cheese bread at Fort Bragg. Chris and I will miss seeing Ralph at the events. Love Chris and Diana
Mike and Helen DeLaurentis, April 18
There are few people in life whom you can think of as inspirational but Ralph was. He learned how to live with physical challenges, he made a difference for the
blind community and he did it all with a great attitude...an inspirational attitude. We all learned how to handle difficulties from Ralph. Our sincerest sympathies to
Joanne, Mike and Kristin.
Mike and Jenn Sipe, April 26
His Name Says It All
Remembering Ralph includes the following special qualities:
Resilient – Ralph taught himself braille as his sight was failing, and to walk after his legs were amputated as a result of his diabetes. He never backed away
from a challenge.
Active-Ralph was an active member of the SAMOA club we especially remember him for the Run to Ft. Bragg. Can anyone say Brownies and cheesy Bread!!
I remember once he and Joanne designed a run to the Clarksburg Sugar Mill. Only Mike and I showed up and we still had fun.
Laugh-Ralph was always able to laugh at the sometimes questionable barbs that were slung at him at SAMOA events and meetings.
Passionate-Ralph was passionate about everything he did, whether it was for the blind community or SAMOA.
Hospitable -We were often enlightened with Ralph speaking about events he was a part of. This could be SAMOA related or not. Give him a forum or
microphone and he was off and running.