Ralph was born in Washington, DC on November 4, 1939. He was raised by his grandmother and several other family members in Northern Virginia. Ralph loved to dance and jitterbugged his way to win many local and regional awards. After graduating from Fairfax High School, Ralph joined the Navy. While stationed in Norfolk, VA, he met the love of his life, Dorothy Gibson, at a dance at the Navy YMCA. They were married in 1965 and he not only gained a wife, but in-laws who loved him dearly and accepted him as their own.
He followed his Navy service with a career in the personal loan industry and retired after 25 years with Household Finance Corp. Having worked all his life, Ralph was not content to stay at home. He joined C&F Mortgage as a Mortgage Loan Originator and later became a bus driver for Newport News Public Schools. Because he truly enjoyed driving and interacting with diverse groups of people, he added Busch Gardens tram driver to his resume before he fully retired in 2019, a year before relocating to Tennessee.
Ralph was a devoted father to his daughter, Tanya. When she was a child, he spent countless Saturdays fishing with her and playing badminton in the street in front of their Stoneybrook home. When she was older, he joined her in several community theatre productions. It was a new passion that he continued even after Tanya moved to Tennessee for college. Ralph was a friend to all who knew him. His laugh was infectious, and he never met a stranger. Although dementia made its way into his mind, he always called Dorothy “my girl” and was dropping one-liners until a few days before he passed.
He is survived by his daughter Tanya and son-in-law Kyle Schrage, his grandchildren Braden, Dawson, and Kalyn Welch all of Lebanon, TN; his step-granddaughters Ellie, Emma, and Cara Schrage of Murfreesboro, TN; his nephew Ervin Marchant and significant other, Denise, of Chesapeake, VA; his niece Jennifer Stevens and husband, Greg, of Orlando, FL; his nephew Edward Marchant and wife, Cyndi, of Currituck, NC; and a host of great nieces/nephews.
Ralph was preceded in death by his wife, Dorothy Bishop, his mother and father-in-law Edward and Dorothy Gibson, and his sister and brother-in-law Shirley and Gene Marchant.
With sincere appreciation, the family would like to acknowledge the staff at The Pavilion Senior Living and Avalon Hospice, both in Lebanon, TN. They provided compassionate and complete care at a most difficult time, through the descent of COVID and beyond.
There will be a celebration of life service at Stevens Memorial Baptist Church, 224 Richneck Rd. Newport News, VA on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 at 11:00am with Pastor Dr. Jay Russ officiating.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (.JDRF.org) in honor of his grandson, Dawson.
LIGON & BOBO FUNERAL HOME of Lebanon, TN (615) 444-2142 www.ligonbobo.com