Ralph Davis Tatum
January 27, 1926 – June 24, 2020
Ralph Davis Tatum, a devoted husband, father, grandfather, friend and World War II veteran, passed away peacefully in his sleep on June 24, 2020 in Brentwood, CA. He was 94.
Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Ralph Tatum was the son of Omar and Sara Ann (Sally) Johnson, and brother to Neville, John, Norma (all deceased) and identical twin Omar Lee who lives in Louisville with his wife, Ann.
After graduating from Anchorage High School in 1944, Ralph and Omar were drafted into the U.S. Army, and stationed at Fort McClellan, Anniston, AL. where they served as cadre instructors until discharged after the war in 1946.
Ralph then attended the University of Kentucky where he met his future bride, JoAnne Finnie. He was a member of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity and earned his bachelor’s degree in business.
JoAnne and Ralph were married in 1956, and lived in Louisville before moving to the California and settling in Danville in 1970 where they raised their family and lived for 41 years.
He worked in the auto industry throughout his career holding sales positions at Continental Tires, Sutherland Tires which he owned and operated in Oakland, and McNevin Cadillac where he worked for 27 years. He then worked at Black Diamond Packaging until deciding to retire at age 82. Ralph was an active member of the Danville Community Presbyterian Church, serving as an usher and in other capacities. He was a long-time member of the Mt. Diablo State Park Interpretive Association, and for many years served as a regular docent for the park’s Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center and Summit Visitor Center.
Ralph had many passions, especially tennis with neighbors at the Sycamore Country Club, and going on hikes with family and his church hiking group, but his real joy came from engaging people in friendly conversation and helping others. He emphasized values of showing kindness and respect to others when raising his children and would take them to volunteer at Food Banks and Soup Kitchens to help distribute food to those in need.
Ralph was a loyal family man, always at the ready to spend weekends attending his children’s and grandchildren’s activities as they were growing up, such as BMX races, baseball and soccer games, tennis lessons, ballet performances and piano recitals.
His loving wife of 63 years, JoAnne, predeceased Ralph on May 27, 2020. He was also predeceased by a son, Mark Tatum, and grandson, Tyler Maher. Ralph is survived by his children Juli Ayers, Craig Tatum, and Steve Tatum, son-in-law Dave Ayers, daughter-in-law Kelly Tatum; and four granddaughters.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, we are limited to a quiet celebration of life with immediate family only. Interment will take place at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery, 5810 Midway Road, Dixon, California.
Remembrances / donations can be made to the Mt. Diablo Interpretive Association.