Dr. Ralph W. Galen

July 27, 1924July 27, 2013

Dr Ralph W Galen passed away on July 27,2013 at the age of 88 at his home in Woburn, MA. Previously, Ralph resided for many years in Lexington and Cambridge. Ralph, affectionately known as Wally by his childhood friends and family, was born in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area to the late Rose and Dr. Robert Galen.

A product of WWII Ralph, skipper of LCT 1112 in the South Pacific during the war, attended various schools of higher education including Northwestern University Midshipmen's School where he received his commission as Ensign, USNR. Upon separation from the Navy Ralph followed in his father's footsteps by becoming a dentist practicing general dentistry in State College Pennsylvania for two years. In 1954 he completed his graduate work in orthodontics at Tufts School of Dental Medicine where he received an appointment as a teaching fellow. He practiced orthodontia in Cambridge for approximately forty years. He may be best known for his passion in the cycling world, co-founding the Charles River Wheelmen in 1967 with his friend Fred Chafee. Ralph later became president of the League of American Wheelmen, a national bicycle organization where he became Life Member #1. In the early years he rode to Expo 67 and across the United States. Later he rode through 13 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and authored a book about his journey entitled, "2 Wheels, 2 Years and 3 Continents." Over the course of his lifetime he rode "bone shakers" “high wheelers”, tandems, fixed gear and road bikes. He amassed a collection of antique bicycles, which he later donated to the Lars Anderson Museum. Ralph was active in the Cambridge Kiwanis Club and Rotary Club, and the chairman and editor of the Middlesex District Dental Society. During his retirement he delivered Meals on Wheels in the Woburn area. In addition, he worked as a docent in the Harvard art museums. He also enjoyed ball room dancing and learning to speak French. Ralph is preceded in death by his parents, his first wife, Ruth Galen (Kaster) and his second wife, Dorothy Cunningham. He is survived by his 2 brothers Larry Galen of Bensalem PA and Dr Robert Galen of Maine, his daughters Amy Sebell of Andover, MA and Terry Galen of Moab, Utah; his 3 grandchildren, Jason Sebell(Franklin MA), Rachel Sebell (Cambridge MA)and Meera Edwards (Utah), and 2 great grandchildren Jack Sebell and Max Sebell. Ralph also leaves his beloved friend and longtime companion, Celeste Delpidio. Ralph established charitable trusts with both Tufts Dental and Mt Auburn Hospital. A 19th century Chicago preacher described cycling as natural and confidence-boosting: "How tranquil and happy! How self-poised and self-reliant, how harmonious with nature and art, the cyclist seems as he passes along the highway, street and boulevard, like a bird on the wings of the wind."


  • Funeral services are private

Dr. Ralph W. Galen

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Mary Jane Bohlen

December 7, 2013

My husband and I were CRW members back in the 70's. I was thinking of Ralph recently and thought I'd look him up. So sorry to see he had passed. I still use a beautiful deep blue glass bowl that he and Ruth gave us for a wedding present. He was a great human being. Mary Jane and Bob Bohlen (Providence, RI)

Chuck Kadis

October 19, 2013

I am a cyclist, and read Ralph's book based on the recommendation of a friend. It was a truly inspiring tale which helped me to expand my horizons as a cyclist. Definitely one of the best cycling/travel books ever written-and I've read a few.

I was so inspired to meet the man who went on this adventure, that I tracked Ralph down, and met him at his home in Woburn in the summer of 2012. We looked at his legendary slide collection, talked about his adventures, and went to lunch at a Greek diner around the corner. A great day for me.

Thanks Ralph and say hello to the Globetrotter for me (which I managed to see at Quad Cycles in Arlington!)

Mel Prenovitz

September 1, 2013

Ralph Galen's name evokes fond memories for me. We met in the early 1990's on a CRW ride shortly after his return from riding his tandem bike solo through Europe and Israel, then to Miami and all the way home along the Atlantic coast.

We spent a weekend together circumnavigating Martha's Vineyard. Ralph was a warm caring person and I will miss him. Mel Prenovitz

Rich & Joanna Holleran

August 5, 2013

We send our blessings & prayers to Ralph's extended family. We only knew Ralph for seven years but we enjoyed spending time with Ralph & Celeste at our home and other family functions. He will be missed.

Andy Clarke

August 1, 2013

On behalf of the board and staff of the League of American Bicyclists (formerly Wheelmen) I am so sorry to hear of Ralph's passing. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Ralph for his leadership in the League and Boston area a time when cycling was not quite as popular and mainstream as it is today! Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

John Allen

August 1, 2013

It is hard to overstate how central Ralph was to the founding of the Charles River Wheelmen or to building the League of American Wheelmen following its reorganization in 1965, after 10 years of dormancy. He served on the League's Board and as Board President as well. He was a key figure in organizing of the League's 1969 rally in Rockport, at which Dr. Paul Dudley White and Representative Tip O'Neill spoke.

He led the first CRW ride I ever took, in 1975, starting at Cambridge Common.

End of an era...

Harry Manasewich

August 1, 2013

Ralph was such a kind and inspirational person. I first met him in 1983 when I joined the Charles River Wheelman bicycle club, which he helped establish. We owe him much. May he rest in peace.

Bonnie Friedman

August 1, 2013

I fondly remember Ralph's bike rides and parties that ended at his home in Lexington. The best part was Ralph taking all of into his garage filled with vintage bikes, and then Ralph taking them out one at a time and riding around his neighborhood. Even though I haven't been on a CRW ride in ages, I've often thought of Ralph and wondered if he was still able to ride all those bikes. His enthusiasm for high-wheelers was infectious. Hope Ralph and his bikes are being taken care of well.

Mike Hanauer

August 1, 2013

I knew Ralph for many years thru CRW. The spirit, writings, excursions, parties, character, and generosity of Ralph Galen will so be missed.

Douglas Kline

July 31, 2013

Ralph was a founder of the Charles River Wheelmen, its first president, and president of the League of American Bicyclists (League of American Wheelmen at the time). He contributed to bicycling as a volunteer all his life. He contributed a book about his international travels too. His contributions will live on.