Ralph Henry Chilton Jr.
August 7, 1930 – September 5, 2020
The rock of his family, Ralph Henry Chilton, Jr. of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, passed away from natural causes on Saturday, September 5, 2020, with his children at his side.
Born August 7, 1930 in Dayton, Ohio, Ralph was a sweet, happy boy who loved basketball, grew his own flower garden, and enjoyed spending summers at the Chilton’s ancestral home, Holly Point, in Morattico, Virginia. Once, while attending Fairview High School in Dayton, he got in trouble for talking in class. When the teacher suggested he sing in front of class the next day as punishment, he agreed - as long as the teacher promised not to interrupt him. The next day, he sang so many repetitive verses of “You Can’t Ride in My Little Red Wagon” that he took up the entire class!
Yet Ralph was no slouch of a student. In 1952, he graduated after 3 1/2 years with highest distinction from Purdue University, majoring in mechanical engineering. He joined the U.S. Navy and served five years active duty, flying Grumman F9F Panthers off the deck of the USS Hornet during its 1955 Far East Cruise and rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. After retiring from active duty, Ralph studied law and served as patent editor for the law review at George Washington University, earning his degree in 1960. In 1961 he met Edna “Doodle” Brunson on a blind date in New York City. Before they could go on a second date, however, Ralph was recalled to active duty and served at Guantanamo Bay during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. After he returned, Ralph didn’t want to be separated from Doodle again. They married on January 26, 1963.
Ralph joined the patent law firm of Lindsay & Prutzman in Hartford, CT, and he and Doodle began their happy life together. Living in a wonderful home in West Hartford, they raised their three children, Terry, Carolyn, and Hank, and became active members in the community. Ralph worshipped and served as deacon at Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford. Ralph also became involved in the West Hartford YMCA, serving as President of the Board. He continued his duty in the Naval Reserve for over twenty years, serving as Commander in the JAG Corps in New London, CT.
Nonetheless, Ralph and Doodle always had time for their children, cheering them on at various sporting events and plays, helping with their homework, and taking them on numerous trips - camping throughout New England, visiting family in Virginia (Holly Point) and in Doodle’s home state of Florida. The Chiltons spend much of their summers at the Red Oak Hill Swim and Tennis Club in Farmington, CT, where they formed life-long friendships playing tennis, timing at swim meets, and grilling in the grove. Ralph served as President at Red Oak Hill in the early 1980s, during which time he led the transition from the pool water being spring-fed to using a filtration system, warming it from “ice-cold” to “refreshing” (though still cold).
In 1996, Ralph retired as senior partner at the firm of Chilton, Alix, and Van Kirk, and he and Doodle began the next chapter of their lives together. They moved to Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, near Doodle’s family, returning in the summers to their small cottage in the Historic Point section of Newport, RI. There Ralph and Doodle hosted both Terry’s and Carolyn’s weddings, Ralph sailed small boats out of the nearby naval base, and they spent countless fun evenings with their family and with close friends, Jim and Gail Gunning. In Ponte Vedra Beach, Ralph enrolled in astronomy and physics courses at the local university and took up golf with a passion, studying the game’s mechanics as if it were an intricate machine for which he was hired to file a patent.
In recent years, as they slowed down, Ralph and Doodle moved into Vicar’s Landing Retirement Community, where they once again embraced the opportunity, engaging in many activities and making many new friends. Their lives were filled with family and friends, with great accomplishments and with great shared wisdom. Doodle, who preceded Ralph in death last year, was always social, always generous, and always there when you needed someone. Ralph was modest, humble, and an easy laugher. He, too, was always generous, always interested in learning, and always available to listen. Both of their lives were a blessing to their family and friends and they continue to positively influence their children’s decisions every day.
Ralph is survived by his sister, Mary Chilton Graham of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and his children, Teresa Chilton Korsen (Craig) of Farmington, CT, Carolyn Chilton Leary (Dan) of Livermore, CA, and Hank Chilton (Pam) of Los Angeles, CA, as well as ten grandchildren. Ralph will be interred next to his beloved wife, Doodle, at Jacksonville National Cemetery on Friday October 2,2020 at 9am Lane # 1.
Donations may be made in his name to the Vicar’s Landing Members Trust ,1000 Vicar’s Landing Way, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082.
Arrangements are under the care and direction of HARDAGE-GIDDENS FUNERAL HOME BEACHES CHAPEL, 1701 Beach Blvd Jacksonville Beach FL, 32250.
Vicar's Landing Members Trust
1000 Vicar's Landing Way , Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida 32082
9:00 am - 9:30 am
JACKSONVILLE NATIONAL CEMETERY
Ralph Henry Chilton Jr.
September 15, 2020
The Chilton family was well loved at Red Oak Hill, and I remember Ralph and family (particularly Hank) well. Ralph was always there with a stop watch or the microphone during swim meets on Saturday mornings. Ralph had a great reputation as a master griller in the grove, and made his mark on the swim club by warming the water temperature a few degrees!
September 15, 2020
Ralph and I were compatriots and I will miss my visits with him so much. He loved Doodle and I loved Doodle, only I was first, as we were friends in high school. He got her for keeps, and what a wonderful life together with three beautiful children.
He flew in the Navy as I did. He made Lt Commander and I served as his junior as a lowly Lt.
He earned a second degree in college, I scraped through with one.
He was a good golfer, I couldn't get off the practice tee.
So to say that we were compatriots is a gross exaggeration. He was a smart, cleaver, trustworthy, sweet and loving guy. I could never fit in his shoes.
Already missing you, have a great flight.
September 15, 2020
When I travel over the Avon Mountain to West Hartford my mind & heart without fail become filled w/nastalgia . Nastalgia itself is defined as "a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations". As I read over Ralph Chilton's tribute I can see his presence, his smile, his encouraging words and yes his participation in "song singing" on safe walks home at night down Van Buren & Westland Avenue! I see therefore the kind, fun and supportive role he played in my memory making and my now nastalgia for our very blessed days growing up in West Hartford with wonderful family and friends. I am very grateful to him (and Doodle) for this and they will truly be missed. May God keep them in his care always; sending hugs and prayers for comfort to Terry & Craig, Carolyn and Hank and their spouses & families. Much Love ~ Lynn and Bill Edgar