Maybe one of those stars is my friend Ralph... (no awards please)
In honor and memory of my dear old friend Ralph Keith, a delightful and sometimes ornery crusty old curmudgeon I butted heads with and hugged and kissed right on his half bald sweet head...
Ralph is one of the elders I used to take care of at Cherry Street Manor, the adult care home managed for nearly 4 years. Ralph was there longer than I was, and just this last week he passed away at age 94. He used to keep us entertained with unbelievable stories of his early life when he ran away and joined the Merchent Marines and sailed around the tip of Africa. He was also one of the infamous railway hobos riding the rails during the great depression in search of work and seeing the country... sleeping in the hobo camps along the way.
Ralph was also a photographer in his day, and loved to look over my early work and offer critiques, suggestions and admiration. In fact Ralph is one of the reasons I got so prolific early on, so that I had plenty of pics of local familiar sights to bring back to the Adult Care Home to share with him and the others. Many of the residents were very familiar with my favorite camping and hiking areas up in the hills, and were not able to go there anymore so I found ways to bring the mountains to them!
Bless Ralph's soul on his last great journey.... may it be full of beauty!
I also created a little upbeat slideshow to music of Ralph and the gang at Cherry Street Manor, to the tune of Johnny Cash , "Sixteen Tons
Ralph Keith was born on Feb. 20, 1916, to John Shepard and Ada Belle Keith in Muskoegee, Okla. He was one of seven children. He died at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 25, 2009, at Cherry Street Manor in White Salmon.
At age 16, Mr. Keith left his home in Arkansas and rode the rails for a period of time. he worked for a carnival and a circus, was a deck hand on a river boat, harvested wheat in Minnesota and grapes in California. He hopped a freighter out of New Orleans and sailed around the Cape of Good Hope to South Africa.
He was 26 when he married Berniece Flinn on Oct. 26, 1942, in Mammoth Springs, Ark. They raised a family of seven children: Kathy Laughery, Hoquiam, Barbara Parrish, Lyle, Bonnie Henderson, Trout Lake, Mike Keith, Dallesport, John Keith (deceased), Kelly Keith (deceased), and Henry Keith, Lyle.
The couple moved to Dallesport in 1953 where they remained because Mr. Keith was injured while working on The Dalles Dam. His working years took him to Idaho, California, Wyoming and Washington as a construction worker building dams.
He enjoyed steelhead fishing, target shooting, reloading ammunition, collecting guns and gardening. He was a great story teller and could entertain for hours with his stories. He loved his 13 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren and would tell them story after story of his childhood.
His lifelong dream was to travel to Scotland, the place of his ancestry. This never happened for him but his daughter Bonnie and granddaughter Sharron, were there in 1986 and visited the Keith (Dunn Otter) Castle in Stonehaven, Scotland. His great-granddaughter Mackenzie will help fulfill his and her dream when she travels there after graduating from college.
Berniece, his wife of 42 years, died on Jan. 1, 1992, in The Dalles Hospital. He will be buried beside her at Balch Cemetery in Lyle.
Graveside services will be held on Friday, July 3, 2009, at 2 p.m. at Balch Cemetery in Lyle. Pastor Greg Howell of Grace Brethren Church in Goldendale will officiate.
Memorials may be given to Hospice of the Gorge.