Ralph Charles Tierney
February 13, 1927 – July 13, 2020
Ralph Charles Tierney, 93, died Monday, July 13, 2020, in Austin, TX.
Ralph was born in Cincinnati to Florence and Thomas Tierney. When he was just five years old, he was hit by a car and hospitalized for more than three months with a serious leg injury. His interactions with the medical staff and related surgeries as a young man made a huge impression and later influenced his decision to become a doctor.
Ralph graduated from Purcell Marian Catholic High School and the University of Cincinnati, where he was a cheerleader and a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. It was there where he met the love of his life, Mary Lou, at her Kappa Alpha Theta sorority open house. They married in 1951.
While Mary Lou taught school and later stayed at home to raise their children, Ralph attended the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He graduated with honors in 1956 and was commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. Ralph interned at Valley Forge Army Medical Center in Phoenixville, PA, and completed a residency in pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CHMC) of Cincinnati.
After his first Air Force assignment, at Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, ME, Ralph and Mary Lou, now the parents of five young kids, returned to Cincinnati where Ralph had been accepted for a pediatric cardiology fellowship at the CHMC. Upon receiving his certification, he became the first pediatric cardiologist in the Air Force and one of only approximately 200 physicians in the U.S. who had been certified in this new specialty.
From there, Ralph served as assistant chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Wilford Hall Air Force Medical Center in San Antonio. He and Mary Lou fell in love with Texas, and welcomed their sixth and final child there.
Ralph left the Air Force in 1968 and was appointed commander in the United States Navy Reserves. He held faculty teaching appointments at the University of Nebraska and the University of Tennessee before returning to Texas in 1975 to enter private practice in Fort Worth. He retired from the Navy Reserves as a captain in 1979.
As part of his practice, Ralph treated children with heart conditions locally, as well as from around the state. When he retired from full-time work in 1987, he was invited to open a part-time practice in Odessa, TX. He and Mary Lou spent 25 happy years in their West Texas community before moving to Austin to be closer to family.
Ralph was a devoted father, grandfather, great grandfather, husband, physician and friend. He loved to explore new destinations – especially while on a cruise ship – visiting over 30 countries with Mary Lou. He also enjoyed reading, playing games, spending time with family and friends, a visit to a Las Vegas poker room and a good glass of Irish whiskey. Each of his children was inspired by, and adopted, his commitment to life-long learning.
Ralph was member of the American Heart Association, Omicron Delta Kappa, Alpha Omega Alpha, and the American College of Cardiology.
He is survived by his children David Tierney (wife Melissa Wall Tierney) of Allen, TX, Anne Tierney of Lockhart, TX, Elizabeth Dolan of Dallas, Jane Tierney of Austin, Jan Tierney of Alexandria, VA and Judy Tierney of Austin; grandchildren Sarah Niyogi (husband Somrat Niyogi), Thomas Tierney (wife Amanda Tierney), LT Gregory Tierney USN, Collene Tierney, Christopher Dolan and Dr. Kevin Dolan; and great grandchildren Brooke Tierney, D.J. Tierney, Gavin Tierney, Mia Niyogi and Dylan Niyogi. His wife Mary Lou and sister Ruth preceded him in death.
The family will hold a private service, and his ashes will be interred in the columbarium at St. Jude Catholic Church in Allen, TX. Donations can be made to the Wounded Warrior Project or the American Heart Association.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Ralph Charles Tierney
August 2, 2020
My late husband, Dr. Julian Haber, and I were close friends with Ralph and Mary Lou when they lived in Fort Worth. When they moved away Mary Lou and I exchanged Christmas cards with long newsy letters every year. My fondest memory of the Tierneys was our weekly games playing Trivia Pursuit. Ralph was usually the winner!! I send my deepest sympathy to Ralph's family. He was a brilliant, wonderful person.
Sue Surkamp McNerney
July 29, 2020
I loved your Dad. I fell off a thing at a park, and he diagnosed my broken wrist when I was in the second grade. I remember it clearly. My memory of him is always with a huge smile on his face. Your mom and he had a lot of fun with my parents, Betty and Dick Surkamp. I am grateful for that. ❤️