Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned times of great change in the world around him, Ralph Larsen was an extraordinary man to know and love. He was a man of many talents and interests, but nothing was more near and dear to his heart than spending time with his loved ones. Ralph proudly served his country, and he was kind and generous in everything he did. He was never one to let life get the best of him, rather, he faced whatever came his way with both strength and courage. He was filled with unspeakable joy to witness his family tree blossom to include both children and grandchildren who were so blessed to have Ralph as someone to model themselves after. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
The 1930s were primarily defined by the Great Depression as it covered our nation and much of the world like a wet blanket throughout the entire decade and beyond. There were few American families who didn’t feel the strain as a soaring unemployment rate reached cities and communities all across our great land. Despite the trials around them, Lawrence and Ellen (Eskuri) Larsen were able to shift their focus to an exciting time in their own lives as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Ralph on February 24, 1935, on their dining room table in Detroit, Michigan. He was the youngest of six children to be raised in their two-story colonial home on Lindsey Street as he was joined in his family by his siblings, Lawrence, Earl, Lorraine, Jimmy, and Kenneth. Ralph was very close to his siblings, and he loved and looked up to his siblings. His father worked for Ford Motor Company while his mother was a busy homemaker.
In many ways, Ralph was a young man of his generation. He had fun living next to Mr. and Mrs. Bouse as he was quite the character. Ralph was best friends with Jerry Rollinson, and he was an avid sports fan who was into football, baseball, and his Lionel train set. During the winter months, he could often be found out ice skating. Ralph attended local schools where he was a member of the glee club. He went on to graduate from Redford High School Suma Cum Laude.
Not to be forgotten during his years in high school was Ralph’s introduction to the woman of his dreams. Her name was Joyce Cordola, and they were classmates who were also in glee club together. As fate would have it, they officially met in math class when her pencil dropped and rolled on the floor toward Ralph’s desk. He picked it up and handed it back to her. The rest is history as they say. They were later married, and together they welcomed four children including Dawn, Tammy, Lisa and Dale whom was a welcome surprise as they were so excited to have a son into their hearts and home. Family always came first for Ralph, and he was an active part of his children’s lives. Each of his children knew that they were uniquely loved, and he always had an encouraging word for his children when needed. Ralph also provided in the years to come an unconditional love to his 7 grandchildren and great grandchild. Ralph loved dogs from the time he had a dog as a pet when he was a young boy. Sadly, he discovered that he was allergic to dogs later in life, which meant they became a bird and fish family. When Lisa worked at a kennel and would bring abandoned dogs home, they were drawn to Ralph, of course. He always made sure to find these dogs a good home through his extensive network of friends.
Throughout his life Ralph was one to work hard in everything he did. He was so proud to have enlisted in the Naval Reserves and attended submarine school. Ralph always spoke of how tight the space was that they had to live in when he was first on the submarine. Although he figured he would have been claustrophobic and not able to tolerate the small spaces, he ended up remaining calm and collected. Aside from his time in the military, Ralph also worked hard in his career. He attended tool and die trade school, and he took his role as the provider to heart.
Ralph was a man of many interests, but what made these experiences so extraordinary was sharing them with his loved ones. They took a family vacation to Washington, D.C. They went during the Cherry Blossom Festival and ended up staying in a hotel that was across the street from what would later be known as the Watergate Building. With a love for Lionel trains, Ralph had a set of tables that he could take down and put up that had his Lionel trains on them. He loved gardening and working in the yard as he loved to have a manicured lawn and took pride in his home. Taking care of his home inside and out were truly Ralph’s hobbies. His handyman skills started from the time he was young when he and his best friend, Joe Calleia, would always be working on some type of project. Whether it was replumming the house with copper plumbing or installing an air conditioning unit, Ralph and Joe were always tinkering together. A huge sports fan, Ralph loved the Detroit Tigers and Lions. He enjoyed watching Johnny Carson as well as All in the Family, Columbo, and the Golden Girls. Some of his favorite movies were Blazing Saddles and The Pink Panther series as well as any Clint Eastwood movie and The Avengers.
After the death of Joyce, Ralph was blessed to find love again with Alice Wendt. They met when her daughter, Maryjo, worked at Wing Yees Restaurant and introduced them. Ralph and Alice were married on New Year’s Eve, and they spent 26 years together.
All who knew Ralph Larsen would agree that he was one of the kindest people around. He was an honest man who loved telling jokes, and even at 83 he still remembered some of his best ones. A faithful and loving father and grandfather, Ralph loved nothing more than being surrounded by the love of his family and friends. Life will never be the same without him here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
Larsen, Ralph August 29, 2018 age 83. Beloved Husband of Alice and the late Joyce. Loving father of Dawn Lee, Tammy Mate, Lisa (Kurt) Bertl and Dale (Patti). Dearest grandfather of 7. A visitation will be held Tuesday September 4th, 11 am until the time of Funeral Service 2pm at Neely-Turowski Funeral Home 30200 Five Mile, Livonia, MI 48154