Ralph was born in Calhoun County near Lake City on November 18, 1938. He has a sister in Coon Rapids and his brother died of a heart attack at the age of 44. His dad was a hired hand and turned into a farmer. Ralph grew up in Audubon County and attended country school. He graduated from Lytton High School in 1957, where he ran track for a year. There being no money for college, Ralph joined the air Force, where he served stateside for 4 years, doing teletype maintenance. Following the service he worked at several jobs, including running a home delivery for a bread route and selling insurance in the Des Moines area. He then went to work for Gambles, a hardware and furniture store. This job brought him to Atlantic in 1970. He owned the store for a year. Ralph then went to work for Mahle, where he was employed for over 30 years. He is now retired.
Ralph has been married 3 times. He was married to his first wife Betty for 7 years. Their children are Susan, who lives in Oregon, and Steven, who at the age of 17, was killed in a motorcycle accident on the first day of the fair. His second wife was Elaine, to whom he was married for 29 years. She died of cancer. They had Renae who is married to Scott Steffens, who runs the Steffens Motorcycle shop.
He was then married to Paula for 5 years. Ralph has 3 grandchildren and several step grandchildren.
Ralph enjoys tropical fish. He used to garden quite a bit, but health concerns have limited this activity. Ralph had a stroke in April, and is making a recovery which he hopes will allow him to drive soon. Most of his traveling took place when he was working for Gambles, including trips to Las Vegas. Since his stroke he spends a lot of time watching TV, enjoying the westerns and game shows. Ralph hopes to get back to church in time to sing in the choir. He has also helped usher. Currently a friend, Vicki, stays with him as his caregiver. They live at 1501 Birch Street; 2 dogs and 2 cats complete the household. We hope to see you back in church soon, Ralph! God’s blessings in your recovery.