Ralph George West
July 13, 1928 – June 10, 2019
Ralph G. West was born July 13, 1928, to George and Edith (Mason) West. He lived 90 years, passing away on June 10, 2019.
Ralph was raised in Oswego, a town of fewer than 2,000 residents tucked in the southeast corner of Kansas, 12 miles from Oklahoma and 30 miles from Missouri.
Childhood was not easy during the Great Depression, and Ralph spent some years in an orphanage where discipline was harsh. He left Kansas as a teen, joining his father and an uncle who owned a marina in Portland.
The West men hated to see anything go to waste; when they saw a log drifting past, they would tow it to shore, bucking the powerful Columbia River current in a small boat in order to have free wood.
Ralph enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, and participated in the Berlin Airlift of 1948 and ’49. In that role, he helped deliver food, fuel and other necessities in defiance of the Soviet Union’s blockade of the German city. Today, it is recognized as the first major conflict of the Cold War.
It was in Gresham, Oregon, that Ralph met Mary Lou Resare. They were married in May 1958 and moved to King County, Washington. There, Ralph worked for 35 years as an aerospace electrician for the Boeing Co.
Ralph and Mary Lou had a home built in the Briarwood neighborhood of Renton, where they raised Pam, David and Andrew and became pillars of Renton Bible Church. They made the financial sacrifice to send their children to Bellevue Christian School.
Others often benefitted from Ralph’s craftsmanship, whether it was building a half pipe skateboard ramp for his sons, or helping his son-in-law replace the engine in a Toyota pickup. He often was called upon to help with church repairs and other projects.
In later years, Ralph repaired household items for other residents of the Solstice Retirement Community, where he became known as Mr. Fix-It. In his apartment, he converted a walk-in closet into a woodshop, complete with lathe, drill press and other power tools. There, he built an intricate many-geared clock entirely of wood; it was displayed for years in the retirement community’s common area.
His children remember Ralph as a father who was always there when they needed his help with life’s challenges. He taught them to have a strong work ethic, and to find value in a job well-done. He pursued excellence in all his endeavors, had a mind for mechanics and problem-solving, and was happiest when he had a project. He believed in being prepared, and always traveled with a heavy toolbox – just in case he needed to perform a roadside automotive repair.
Ralph was preceded in death by his parents, and by Mary Lou, his wife of 49 years. He is survived by Pam (and Dan) Hansen of Millwood, Wash.; David (and Michelle) West of Mill Creek, Wash.; and Andrew (and Nandita) West of Las Vegas. He leaves behind five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Those seeking a way to honor Ralph’s life might consider a gift to the Parkinson’s Foundation, cancer research, or the Renton Bible Church building fund.