Ralph August Papania Jr.

August 12, 1918May 29, 2021
Obituary of Ralph August Papania Jr.
Lt. Col Ralph Papania, Jr., retired, passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in Masonville on May 29th, 2021. He was 102. Ralph was born in New Waterford, Ohio on August 12, 1918 to Ralph Papania, Sr. and Angelina Ferris. He had 6 brothers and sisters. Ralph obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Duquesne University in June 1941 and was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army Air Corp in July 1941. He obtained his Master of Science degree in meteorology in 1950 from NYU. He married Helen Grasso in Nagoya, Japan in 1947; Helen was in Japan as a civilian support assistant to the Army Air Corp. They had 5 children, Jadine born in 1948 in Shanghai, Jerome (Jerry) born in New York City in 1950, Ralph Papania, III, (Chipper) born in 1953, Caroline, born in Izmir, Turkey in 1955, and Analisa, born at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska in 1957. Ralph’s love for Helen was extraordinary. He led an incredible life far too fascinating to capsulize here. Please see his chronology on for the whole story. Rest in peace Ralph, Daddy, Pop-Pop, and know that the world is a much better place because of you. RALPH PAPANIA’S CHRONOLOGY 1918 I, Ralph Papania, was born in New Waterford, Ohio August 12, 1918. My father was Ralph Papania, Sr. (Pop), and my mother was Angelina Ferris (Mom). I was raised on the family fruit and poultry farm. (Papania Farms) 1914- My sister Frances was born. 1916- My sister Mary was born. 1918 – Nationwide flu epidemic. 1920 – My brother Frank was born. 1922 – My sister Rose was born. 1924 – My brother Dominic was born, and I began first grade at New Waterford Public School (1st – 12th) 1925 Second grade; I remember walking about a mile to school with my lunch box and books. Sometimes I would ride my horse Dolly to school, and I would tie her out back. I also remember Pop hauling us to church in East Palestine every Sunday. 1926 – My brother Joe was born, and I was in third grade. 1929 I attended sixth grade, and Pop built our large brick home. The stock market crashed, and the Great Depression began. 1933 – I entered New Waterford High School. 1934 I raised a pig as a 4H Club project and displayed it at the Columbiana County Fair. No ribbons. 1935 My sister Rose died of spinal meningitis. There was no cure in those days. 1936 Three of my brothers and I were Eagle Scouts. 1937 I graduated from New Waterford High School. I was assistant scout master for New Waterford Troop 33. 1938 I worked on the farm. I also traveled to Washington DC as an Eagle Scout and Assistant Scoutmaster representing New Waterford Local Troop 33 at the International Scout Jamboree. I enrolled in Duquesne University, Arts and Science Department. I got my first paying job at the Pittsburgh Post Office during the Christmas rush. I lived with Aunt Joanne and Uncle Sebastian Isabella in Pittsburgh for one year. On weekends I went home carrying my laundry bag. I obtained my private pilot’s license, earning 40 hours in PT 17 worth three credits towards my degree. I then moved into the athletic dormitory of Duquesne with roommate Alan Donally (All American Quarterback). I continued my studies under an Athletic Department scholarship. I traveled to New Orleans as equipment manager of the football team for a game with Loyola University. I was a fraternity brother of Alpha Phi Delta. I was nicknamed “Papy”. I was a member of ROTC all my years of college. 1941 On June 2, I graduated from Duquesne University in Pittsburg, PA with B.S. in Chemistry. On June 11, I was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army Air Corps. I then attended Basic Flight Training in Muskogee, OK. On December 7, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. 1942 From July 10 through October 9 I was an Instrument Flight Training and Flight Instructor. On November 26, I was promoted to 1st Lieutenant. I traveled to Brian Field, Texas, and was assigned temporary duty 90 days as an instructor for Advanced Instrument Flight Training, then returned to Cochran Field, Macon, Georgia. My additional duty was the LINK training officer for an original crude blind instrument training device. When we got in these devices, we actually felt like we were flying an airplane. I began training RAF cadets and Chinese pilots. My roommate was Pit Parsons, Commander of the RAF Cadet Corps. 1943 In June I checked out an airplane from Cochran Field, Macon, Georgia to fly to Ohio. My brother-in-law, Joe Mullen, joined me on the flight. He was an army sergeant so he “qualified” to be in a military airplane. We buzzed the Ohio farm’s chicken coop which would be absolutely illegal in present day flying. No flight plan or clearance was needed back then. On July 25 during morning P.E. workout I landed on my head on a trampoline. The P.E. director suggested I have x-rays taken. I went on a flight with one of my students and was called back when the tower issued an urgent radio call. I was ordered to turn the controls over to the student and come in for immediate landing. An ambulance was waiting, as the x-rays showed that I had fractured the fifth cervical vertebrae. I was transported to Emery Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. While in the hospital I met Howard Hughes who was visiting my roommate. I also took an FTD course in flower arranging and received an FTD certificate. One of the nurses caught my eye, but her father was a Baptist Minister, and I am Catholic, so that romance did not last long. I spent three months recovering as an ambulatory patient. I was then promoted to Captain at Cochran Field, Macon, Georgia. 1944 I attended 6 months of Weather School training at Chanute Field, Illinois. 1945 The US detonated two nuclear weapons over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan on August 6 and August 9 respectively. I was assigned reconnaissance flights over the two cities shortly thereafter. World War II ended. 1946 I was transferred to Guam Typhoon Forecast Center, along with 14 other weather officers, selected to support atomic bomb tests at Kwajalein Island in the Marshall Islands of the Pacific. Our bomb tests were then cancelled due to public resistance. I joined the 20th Weather Squadron and was stationed at the Kaingwan Weather Detachment in Shanghai, China. I was transferred to Nagoya, Japan via Manila and Tokyo. My first residence in Nagoya was in the Asai Press Building. 1947 Colonel Jerome Pryber (my son Jerome’s Godfather) was my Commander while stationed in Nagoya Japan. Helen Grasso, born in Needham, Massachusetts August 13, 1922 was one of 400 civilians that came to reinforce the military forces in China. They came aboard the HMS Wisteria (all women) from all over the U.S. Naturally, we bachelors were at Yokohama Harbor to meet and greet them. Helen was assigned to Nagoya as secretary for Colonel Pryber, my boss. When I returned from a one week flight survey, Colonel Pryber told me I should meet his secretary, Helen Grasso. I asked her to join me at a Squadron happy hour party. She said no because she had a date with a jet fighter pilot. I talked her into joining our group because the party was in honor of her assignment to our squadron. I also mentioned that I had a jeep and an airplane. After the party we went to the Officers Club bar and saw the fighter pilot there. She pointed him out as her original date. She and I exchanged glances and that was the end of her romance with the fighter pilot. I proposed to Helen multiple times before she accepted. I bought “The 2 carat diamond” from Fuerst Jeweler for $2,000 in Shanghai. I returned from Shanghai to marry Helen Grasso on March 15 in Nagoya, Japan at the Chapel of the Holy Ghost Convent. We were married for 59 very happy years. My wedding gift to Helen was a 3 strand genuine Mikimoto pearl necklace I purchased for $100 and 3 cartons of cigarettes. Once we were married we moved to our first home which was a military residence in the Broadway Mansions Hotel. The United States Air Force became a separate military service on 18 September 1947 with the implementation of the National Security Act of 1947. 1948 My daughter Jadine was born in Shanghai, China on April 26 in the Military Hospital of the Broadway Mansions. Her Godmother was Maria Spizer. Maria and her husband Wolfang were fur dealers in Shanghai. He was Jewish and she was Catholic. Anytime our Okinawa friends came to Shanghai, Helen would take them shopping in Shanghai for the best deals. Tom and Mae Arbogast were among them. We boys would go to the Russian Officers Club across the Wang Pu River. Helen’s shipmate, Anna Mae Grubaugh, married my co-pilot Jimmy Green. One Sunday morning my parents received notification that I had been killed in a jeep accident. Helen’s sister, Caroline DiNunzio, telephoned to ask about Helen and the baby. An amateur ham radio operator, John Remish, in New Waterford, Ohio, contacted us and confirmed that I was alive and healthy. He then got in touch with my family on the farm and told them they had received a false report. It still remains a mystery as to how the false report originated. After this event my General told me that I could use his priority telephone to call my parents on the farm. When I talked with my parents I was told they were having my wake with family and friends. My mother was dubious and wanted some kind of proof. I told her to go to the desk in my old room and there she would find my Duquesne University graduation ring. The wake then became a happy celebration. I still have the telegram signed by all the wake/celebration attendees. 1949 As Mao Tse Tung was taking over China, Helen and daughter Jadine were evacuated from Shanghai. The flyers had to stay behind, and I accompanied Madame Chiang Kai-shek to Taiwan. She gave me a Flying Scarf to thank me. We moved to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, outside of Washington D.C. I took two months TDY (Temporary Duty Yonder) to attend the Namais Weather Course in DC for long range weather forecasting. After a brief stay at Andrews I was awarded a fellowship to attend graduate school, majoring in Meteorology at NYU. Our family moved to Levittown, New York. 1950 On June 3, I was promoted to Major, and on August 29 I was awarded an Air Medal for Distinguished Flying Service. On December 12, my son Jerome (Jerry) was born at Mitchell Air Force Base, Hempstead, New York. I graduated from NYU with a Master of Science degree in Meteorology. 1952 In January Helen and I attended my flying class reunion at the Bradywater Twins Ranch. The main entertainment was pitching dried cow cakes instead of horseshoes. We had a good ol’ cowboy meal. The pig was roasted by the ranch cowhands. We also took the San Antonio River boat ride. 1953 In February, I was transferred to Ent Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colorado. On November 4, my son Ralph Papania, III (Chipper) was born. I spent 3 months at the Indian Springs, Nevada, underground atomic bomb test range. Above ground tests were prohibited because of radiation. 1954 I was transferred to Izmir, Turkey by way of Naples, Italy. I wanted the Naples assignment, but Hank Baldi outranked me and won the Naples Weather Center job. I lived in a bachelor apartment with Shukru Bay and Muvrett Kendir (Aybars’ parents) before my family came over from Colorado Springs to join me. The family (Helen, Jerry, Jadine, and Chipper) came to Izmir and we stayed at the Izmir Palace. It was infested with bed bugs. The Kendirs heard about it and insisted we move out of the hotel. We all then moved to my bachelor apartment until we could find family accommodations. Consequently, we all moved into an apartment across the street from the Izmir Trade Center. 1955 Helen rode a camel before knowing she was pregnant with daughter Caroline. On August 12, Caroline was born in Izmir, Turkey. The weather station in Izmir was upgraded to WEATHER CENTER as a joint Turkish and U.S. Facility (picture). On November 4, my son Chipper died and we left Caroline with our dear friends George and Ronnie Moxon, in Naples. Jadine and Jerry stayed with the Kendirs in Izmir. Helen and I went to Ohio for Chipper’s burial. 1956 I was transferred to Bitburg, Germany. I was the 3rd Weather Wing Inspector General, which involved visiting all weather stations in Europe. Helen would occasionally join me. In December I was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel at a ceremony presided over by Colonel Roy Nelson. 1957 I was transferred to Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, as an officer with the Strategic Air Command (SAC). On September 10, Analisa was born at Bellevue Hospital, Sarpy County, Nebraska. 1958 I went to Alaska with a SAC survey team to look at potential SAC staging bases in the event the USA went to war with Russia. 1959 I traveled to Randolph Air Force Base, Texas to attend jet flight training for a month without family. 1960 I was transferred to Little Rock, Arkansas. I was Base Weather Detachment Commander at Jackson Air Force Base, near Little Rock. 1961 While in Little Rock, we lived on base near a lake where Jerry and Mom often fished for catfish. 1963 I was transferred to Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany. I was with the 4th Allied Tactical Air Force (NATO), as ATAF Staff Weather Officer. 1964 Helen traveled to Moscow. My security clearance prohibited me from travelling with her to Russia. 1966 I was transferred from Air Weather Service to the Defense Intelligence Agency, (DIA) in Arlington, Virginia, attached to the Pentagon. We lived on base in McLean, Virginia. 1967 At the Pentagon I conducted climatology studies for the Vietnam War. At Helen’s request, I cancelled my flight certificate. 1968 I retired from the United States Air Force. 1969 We moved to Moss Rock Place in Boulder, CO. I was encouraged to interview with Sierra Research Corporation at the recommendation of Eugene Bollay, President of the American Meteorological Society. He said to ask Larry Davis for a ticket to Boulder, CO for an interview. Larry was not there but I was advised to proceed to Boulder anyway. The interview never materialized, but I was hired as Director of Operations for Cloud Seeding. Sierra Research was on the cutting edge of the science of fog dispersal, hail dispersal and rain augmentation. Our first project was seeding for fog dispersal in Sacramento and San Francisco using helicopters. It was a joint project with the Navy. The chemical we used was urea (fertilizer). On the first test run, it stained all the cars in the parking lot below, and that was the end of that project in California. One of Dr. Davis’ sons (Brad) and Jerry were involved with several projects during this time, including Quantico where I worked with a Marine Lieutenant Colonel as Co-project Managers. I joined the Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Boulder. Father Bill Breslin was our pastor. I remember I tithed $350 a year. 1970 My brother Dominic travelled to Kent State University to pick Jerry up after the college shootings. Helen and I were also in the east at the time, visiting Jadine at her college in Pennsylvania. We picked Jerry up at the farm in Ohio as soon as we could get there, and drove back to Colorado. I was Project Manager of the Libya Weather Modification Project. We set up weather radars in Tripoli and Bengazi. Momar Kadafi attended the Tripoli site inauguration. 1971 I conducted the Buckeye Electric Power Plant Sight Survey, sponsored by Stern Rogers Engineering of Denver. It was coal powered which is why it had to be located way out on Owl Canyon Road near Windsor, Colorado. 1972 I directed the Canary Island Project (a Spanish possession in the Atlantic), for rain augmentation with Albert Schnell as local project officer. In June I was sent by Sierra Research to set up a project in Potgietersrus, South Africa. The project focused on hail dispersal for citrus crops in the region. I was unable to return home for Christmas that year. 1973 Helen, Caroline, and Analisa joined me in January for a month long visit, via London, Paris and Rome. They returned via Turkey, to visit the Kendirs, Caroline’s birth place, and Greece to tour the Parthenon. This was all during the children’s school year so they had 1 and a half months of assignments while travelling. Bill Brodie was one our pilots in Potgietersrus, along with Tom Wells and Ron Rismon. Bill took Caroline on one of the cloud seeding flights where she was allowed to trigger the flares. Severe thunderstorm turbulence was encountered but Caroline was too innocent to realize the danger. I ordered Bill to abort the operation while Helen was screaming in the background. There was some delay due to “radio static”. Our contract monitor in South Africa was Clarence Lattimer who owned a fancy house, swimming pool, and exotic blond wife. They lived on a plantation near Nelspruit, South Africa. We traveled to Kruger National Park with guide Bertie Guleme who was a hunter and a plantation owner. In the park we saw a very rare albino leopard, and many other exotic jungle sights, including being chased by a herd of elephants. After our visit to the park we visited Bertie’s home. Caroline remembers his coffee table legs were elephant feet. His animal trophies were all over the house. This is where we watched them make buffalo jerky, called bultong. 1974 West Kansas was in the midst of a severe drought and we set up cloud seeding for rain augmentation. We were hired by the Bureau of Reclamation to seed the cumulus clouds for rain, using silver iodide pyrotechnic flares. We used three airplanes rented from our friend, Fred Solheim. 1976 Sierra Research was bought out by Dr. Larry Davis and renamed Colorado International Corporation, (CIC). 1977 Julio Aragones, administrative representative for our Spanish cloud seeding project came to Boulder for a short visit. He joined us for a fun dinner with our family. 1979 I retired from CIC. Helen and I travelled to Singapore, and Shanghai, China, as soon as China reopened to foreign travelers. At the Broadway Mansions Hotel in Shanghai, we were met by our former houseboy, Fe Ding, who was now the manager of the hotel. He remembered me, addressing me as Captain Papania as soon as I got off the elevator. We went to the roof to reminisce with Ama and Fe, 2 of the 5 servants we had while in Shanghai. (Houseboy Fe, Nanny Ama, Cook, Coolie, and Chauffeur.) Daughter Analisa married Dan Rohret, a Boulder native. Pop was awarded Farmer of the Year, for his invention of a crop spraying machine. 1980 Pop (my father) died at the age of 96. My first grandchild, Analisa Jadine, was born in Greeley, Colorado, to Caroline and Jim Garrison. Jerry and Lee married in Pennsylvania, where we met with Ohio, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts family to celebrate. 1981 My first grandson was born, Christopher Joseph Manganello in Rockaway, New Jersey, to Jadine and Donny Manganello. 1982 I travelled to Pennsylvania after Jerry and Lee’s severe car accident. 1983 Jerry and Lee moved to Colorado and lived at Moss Rock for 3 months. 1984 Jadine and Christopher moved to Colorado and lived at Moss Rock for less than a year. 1988 – My mother died, at the age of 93. 1989 My third grandchild, A.J. Street, was born in Greeley, Colorado to James (Gym) and Caroline Street. 1992 Jim Morrison and Jadine were married; Jim’s son Colin and Christopher became brothers and friends. All of my family attended the enormous Papania Family Reunion in New Waterford, Ohio. 1993 My brother Dominic and I traveled to Gunnison and The Black Canyon for a sight seeing trip. 1994 I took Dominic on a flight over Mt. Fuji while travelling to Tokyo. 2002 We placed hundreds of Memorial Day flags for the local Arleigh A. Burke Chapter of the Military Officers’ Association (MOAA) at the Mountain View Memorial Cemetery. 2005 On October 5, Helen passed away. Father Bill Breslin said the mass. 2006 I traveled to Sicily, Rome, Venice, and Naples with my grandson, Christopher. We visited my cousins in Termini Imerese, Sicily (Pop’s birthplace). My cousins were Francesca, Maria, and Anthony Amato (Pop’s mother’s maiden name). They prepared real old fashioned spaghetti and meatballs. Christopher got bored and walked to the market to buy flowers to thank them. My cousins Francesca and Maria did not speak English but my cousin Anthony did. 2007 Christopher and I attended many bible studies, masses, and confirmation preparation classes. Christopher received the Sacrament of Confirmation. 2008 My first great grandchild, Montez Manganello, son of Christopher and Kara was born. Aunt Caroline DiNunzio visited. Two weeks after Montez was born, his grandmother, my daughter Jadine passed away at the age of 60. I turned 90 and I moved myself to a retirement home, the Atrium in Boulder. After three weeks I moved back to Moss Rock Place and lived there until it sold in 2010. My grandson A.J. lived with me while attending his sophomore year at C.U. Boulder. 2009 I traveled to Southern Germany with Gym and Caroline. 2010 Moss Rock Place sold and I moved in with Jim Morrison in Boulder, Colorado. Daughter Analisa married Kent Somers. I traveled to Izmir, Turkey with Caroline, Gym, Kent and Analisa. We again visited the Kendirs, primarily at their beach house in Cesmay, Turkey. Visiting Ephesus twice was also very memorable on the trip. I then moved to Masonville, Colorado to live with Caroline and Gym. 2011 I traveled to South Vietnam with Caroline, Gym and Tera (our manicurist) as our guide. In September, I traveled to Ohio to celebrate my brother Dominic’s 90th birthday, and in November Dominic spent a week with us in Masonville. 2012 I won the Crestview Local School District Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame Award for a lifetime of distinguished service to country, community and family. My nephew, Ralph Papania, encouraged the family to nominate me. Analisa Jadine wrote the nomination form, and I received the highest total points to win the award. 2013 On November 21, my great granddaughter Jadine was born, to parents Christopher and Kara. 2016 Great granddaughter Helen Elizabeth Schelle was born in San Francisco, to parents Analisa Jadine and Mike. 2018 In June, my son Jerry passed away after a long, courageous battle with ill health. Dominic, Gary and Susan celebrated with us for my 100th birthday. I continue to enjoy family, making spaghetti sauce and bread in vast quantities, and being command control for the entire wonderful goings on of my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Ralph passed away peacefully in his sleep the morning of May 29, 2021. Rest in peace Ralph, Daddy, Pop-Pop, and know that because of you the world is a much better place.

Show your support

Past Services

Friday, June 04, 2021

Memorial Mass at Sacred Heart of Jesus