Ralph grew up in Troy and Dayton, Ohio. He developed a strong work ethic: out of bed early to deliver newspapers during the harsh Ohio winter, then later, clean up duties at the downtown YMCA to help his widowed mother with expenses. After taking a late night bus from downtown Dayton to the suburbs, the next morning he arrived at Wilbur Wright High School ready to participate in debate, journalism and Science Club along with his regular college-prep curriculum. He graduated with honors from Wilbur Wright High, afterwards serving in the U.S. Army for two years.
Ralph was married to Nancy Shively until her untimely death in July 1976. Ralph married Jean Holmes and they enjoyed 42 years of marriage.
He received Bachelor and Master degrees from Miami University and a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt/Peabody University. He was professor and chair of the education department for over 15 years at Shorter College, now Shorter University. Previously he had been an elementary school principal in Troy, Ohio. He taught reading at W.L. Swain Elementary School in Bartow County, where he retired.
As a friend, I admired Ralph’s dedication to education, music, the arts and history. He was an outstanding contributor to the Rome Symphony Orchestra, Northwest Georgia Winds, Rome’s Regimental Band, Rome History Museum, and Rome Little Theatre as well as Miami University, Vanderbilt, Berry, Shorter, Georgia Highlands, West Georgia and Reinhardt University. He was president for many years of the Rome Music Lovers Club. He was a leader and member of the local Rome Area Writers Association, having establish that organization along with the Dr. Thad Matheny, where both contributed to the annual publication “Lavender Mountain Anthology. He was also a member of the Great Books Literary Society and participated in Senior Scholars at Berry College. He became such a presence on campus that Dr. Ouida Dickey, his longtime friend, declared him an alumnus of Berry. Ralph was honored to represent his alma mater, Vanderbilt University, at the inauguration and installation of Berry College President Stephen Briggs.
Above all, Ralph was a Christian and a member of Garden Lakes Baptist Church, where he taught Sunday School. He enjoyed attending the interfaith group with his beloved friends, Sam and Rose Peller. He found those intellectual discussions very stimulating. He also loved his friends of many years, Dr. Clayton and Margaret Wimberly, his friends in Great Books and Senior Scholars, as well as other friends in organizations in which he was privileged to participate.
Ralph was a talented writer and composed many poems he shared with friends. He loved animals, especially dogs, and was a donor to the Animal Rescue Foundation. In the spring, along with beloved German Shepherd mix, Bugher, he will be laid to rest in Ohio soil. Patricia and I are glad you passed our way.