Ralph William Charles Monroe, 83, was a husband, father, brother, grandpa, coach, and, most of all a friend. He was born at home February 10, 1929 to Ralph Amos and Nellie Maurine Monroe in Creve Coeur, Mo. He passed away May 15, 2012, at Rogue Valley Medical Center, Medford, Ore., after a lengthy battle with prostate cancer.
Ralph attended school from the first grade through Ritenour High School in Overland, Mo. He was a Boy Scout, reaching the rank of Life Scout Order of the Arrow, and looked forward to scout camp every summer as the troop bugler.
He grew up when money was scarce, and his first job at the age of 11 was delivering magazines for the Saturday Evening Post. His summer jobs during his youth would include pumping gas, selling tomatoes, cutting grass, and packing boxes at a can factory.
In 1946, he joined the Army and became a paratrooper, making his first parachute jump on his 18th birthday. In the paratroopers his love of flying began to take shape. He would later take flying lessons but, due to kidney stones, was prevented from getting his pilot's license. Stationed in Japan, he loved the culture of the Japanese people and would later return as head coach for the 1967 Oregon Cultural Exchange Wrestling Team.
He attended Missouri University from 1948 to 1952 and played football and baseball. While in college, he worked part-time as a carpenter and roofer and this would continue as his summer job after he started teaching. The highlight of his college sports career was playing left field at the 1952 College World Series where Mizzou received the silver medal. This baseball team celebrated a 50th reunion in 2002. Even though they had aged and walked a little slower their passion for the sport was still there, as well as their love for each other.
For 23 years he was a teacher, mentor, and coach. Ralph moved to the Rogue Valley in 1959 and was employed for 17 years with Medford School District 549C. He taught and coached at Lone Pine, Hedrick, Mid-high and Medford Senior High and enjoyed encountering old students, even when vacationing in Canada.
In 1969, he took only three wrestlers to the state tournament and they would finish third as a team. He would talk about this often as a highlight to his wrestling career, along with being able to coach his son before leaving the high school. He not only coached but also refereed high school wrestling including the 1970 World Wrestling Championships in Edmonton, Alberta and National AAU in Lincoln, Neb. He was on the football coaching staff under Fred Spiegelberg, enabling him to be part of the winning Black Tornado from 1962 to 1975. Last year, in a letter to the editor, he expressed thankfulness for the invites to student class reunions. He felt that if he played a small part in setting his students on a successful path years ago and they still remembered him, then he had done his job.
In 1976, he left teaching and went into construction full time, where he continued to build and remodel homes until his retirement in 2011. Although he no longer was involved in coaching school sports, he continued to coach his children in boys and girls Little League in 1977 and 1980, and City League Woman's Slow Pitch Softball in 1979.
His love of and participation in sports: baseball, football, wrestling, badminton, racketball, and golf, began with sandlot ball and would extend throughout his life. For ten years, he would be part of the construction crew during the Super Bowl, which enabled him to see and meet many sports and entertainment legends. His grandsons helped to keep sports alive through their playing at North Medford High School. He would once again become the number one fan of the Medford Black Tornado.
Ralph was a gentle man, willing to give a helping hand and a smile to anyone he met. He belonged to many organizations during his lifetime, and was a current member of North Medford Rotary and Home Builders Association of Jackson County, where he served as president for three years and was made a Life Member in 2008.
He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Nancy; children, Kimberly Howitt-Ross (Chuck), of Medford, Ore., and Bryan Monroe (Micki), of Kingston, Wash.; his children by a previous marriage, Cristi Remick (Michael), of Eagle Point, Ore., Melanie Sam (Paul), of LaCenter, Wash., and Scott Monroe (Bill Carney), of Healdsburg, Calif.; sister, Shirley Roarig, of Eatonville, Wash.; grandchildren, Lance and Blaine Howitt, and Jeremy Ross, all of Medford, Ore., and Krystin Downing (Mike), of White City, Ore.; great-grandchildren, Ty and Payton Downing; and his cocker spaniel buddy, Jackson. He was preceded in death by his parents; stillborn son, Craig Mitchell Monroe; sister, Patsy Taylor; and grandson, Kyle Ross. Family was important to him, and not only blood relatives but those who adopted him as their own will miss him very much.
Months ago, he said he had lived a good life, had done a lot of things, and had only one regret, not being able to go to Washington D.C. to view our country's history.
A celebration of his life will be held on June 11, 2012, 5:00 p.m., at Tablerock Fellowship, 3610 N. Pacific Hwy., Medford, Ore., with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the North Medford Rotary Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 8440, Medford, OR 97504, or Ralph Monroe Memorial Fund/Wrestling, North Medford High School, Attn: Tim Sam, 1900 North Keene Way Dr., Medford, OR 97504.
Rogue Valley Funeral Alternatives has handled the cremation.