Ralph Clinton Stewart was born in Topeka, Kansas on January 16th, 1924 to LeRoy Doyle and Gertrude Rebecca Stewart. He grew up in Topeka with his brothers George and Billy, and his sister Elanor. When he was 18 years old, him and his friend Wayne went out on a double date with two sisters. Ralph with Alta, and Wayne with Delores. Sometime during the date, they switched partners and Ralph and Delores started an epic relationship. They were married in June of 1942, and gave birth to their first daughter Connie in May of 1943.
Uncle Sam had other plans for Ralph other than just enjoying being a dad, and on April 5, 1944, Ralph enlisted in the Navy. Receiving his training at the Navy’s Air Technical Training center, Jacksonville Florida Ralph graduated as an electrical apprentice in April of 1945. He served less than a year in the Navy, separating in March of 1946 while stationed on the beach at Miramar where they had their second Child Terran. In his presidential separation letter from the military, Harry S. Truman stated, “To you who answered the call of your country and served in its Armed Forces to bring about the total defeat of the enemy, I extend the heartfelt thanks of a grateful Nation. As one of the Nation’s finest, you undertook the most severe task one can be called upon to perform. Because you demonstrated the fortitude, resourcefulness and calm judgment necessary to carry out that task, we now look to you for leadership and example in further exalting our country in peace.” To that end, Ralph dedicated his life.
In the coming years he sired three more sons, Johnny in 1947, Doyle (Brad) in 1949, and after a particularly romantic trip to Mexico had Ralph (Sparky) in 1957. A musical family, the kids were taught to sing in harmony before they were taught to read or write. The family tradition was that they kids would have to sing for their supper, and it was common to have full musicals performed in the basements of their homes.
The Stewart clan grew up in and around Lakewood, Colorado. Ralph built an electrical business as well as raising his family. In the summers, they would make the trek back to California to visit relatives. Back in the day when cars did not have air conditioners, they would hang wet diapers in the windows of the cars and eat ice cubes to keep cool. Every house they lived in was in a constant state of improvement, but this happy family never complained. They listened to the radio at nights, and played with grasshoppers tied to the end of stings on a stick. It was a simple time.
The family moved to Glenrock, Wyoming in the early 1960’s to work on a power plant outside of town. Here the children started to reach the age, where they went off on their own. Terran had the first grandchildren with Wendy, and Stewart. Brad and Johnny married sisters Vickey and Judy, and had daughters, Shonda and Heather. Connie did not go to Wyoming but stayed behind in Nunn, Colorado to finish school, and was the first to be married, but was unsuccessful in having children until she adopted the fifth and sixth grandchildren Joseph and Shannon. Terran had another daughter Angel. Sparky married Karen, and had the last of the first marriage grandchildren Ralph (Tommy). Before Ralph was 50 he had eight grandchildren. Brad went on to have Cassie and Beau, and Sparky waited a very long time to have Haley Jo and Hanna. From there they have gone on to give Ralph, 25 great grandchildren, and 11 great, great grandchildren.
On September 30, 1989, his first wife Delores passed away from uterine cancer after 47 years together. Although in mourning, once a heart has known great love, it seeks to find another great love to fill that void. In March of 1991, Ralph found that love again with Rose Marie Pomeroy. Not only did Ralph find another love, he found another family who loved him back. Rose had two children Charles (Mike) and Tammy (Rene). Michael had married Zoa, and they had two sons Brent and Brandon, and Rene married Robin, and have two daughters, Danielle and Caitlyn. They welcomed this new, talented, hardworking, funny, and fun father figure into their lives, and quickly grew to love him too. Rose’s brothers Bobby, Howard, and sisters Mack, Rebba and Sandra embraced their new brother. Rose’s cousin Teresa and her husband Laurence became fast friends and traveling companions.
Ralph lead an unprecedented healthy life, and never had to take a pill, or dye his hair. He worked at the Saturn plant in Nashville until he was 70, and then started a handy man service that he worked at until he was 85. While pulling two four by eight pieces of plywood onto a roof, he lost his grip and injured his back. This was the first time that he had take any medicine. The back injury expedited his retirement by 90 plan, and the man who never grew old started showing his age.
Shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and he started to forget things. He continued to drive into his 90’s, and lived independently with his wife until he was almost 92. As he progressed through assisted living, to nursing care, he never lost his sense of humor and was loved by everyone he met. On December 5, of 2017 this patriarch of the Stewart family, and beloved brother, father, and grandfather lost his struggle against this debilitating disease.
There are many that are saddened, many hearts that are broken, at the passing of this great man, but this is not a sad tale to create more tears. This is a story of a man from simple roots, who has aspired and inspired five generations of his family to live a life of greatness. To seek the enjoyment in everyday, and to always remember to play and laugh along the way. From his example, we can learn that we have to grow older, but we do not have to get old. Thank you for those lessons, and we will always love and miss you, young man.
A memorial service will be held for friends and family at the Chapel at Brown’s funeral home on the 19th of December, 2017 at 1pm. The address is 904 N 7th Street, Grand Junction, CO 81501. Please come and celebrate this young man’s long life.