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Obit: Ralph E. Smith, 92, West Bend

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Ralph Edward Smith, age 92, peacefully went to be with his Savior surrounded by family on July 30, 2016.  He was born to Edward and Natalie (Nee Hirsch) on December 1, 1923 in Milwaukee, WI.  He married the love of his life, Miriam Clark on September 13, 1951 in California, and together they had five children.

Ralph attended Milwaukee public schools, graduating from Washington High School in 1942.  He attended Milwaukee State Teacher’s College, graduating from Stout Institute in 1950 with a B.S. degree in Industrial Education, and in 1953 with an M.S. degree.  In 1942, he entered the Army Air Corps, completing his service as a CFC B-29 gunner with the 73rd Bomb Wing on Saipan, Mariana Islands, with a rank of TSgt. He was recalled to active duty in 1950 for the Korean War.  The Air Force took Ralph and Miriam to many locations: England, California, Japan, New York and Wisconsin.  He retired from the U.S. Air Force with the rank of MSgt in 1968.  Ralph considered his service during WW2 to be his greatest life accomplishment, and never tired of sharing his experiences with others.  For eighteen years, he taught industrial education courses in the West Bend School District, retiring in 1986.  Ralph had many interests and hobbies throughout his life: woodworking, golfing, fishing, hunting, model trains and planes, going “Up North” to the cabin (he designed and built in 1977), maple syrup making, gardening and canning, baking and cooking, military march music, stamp and coin collecting, among others. He was an avid UW Badger football fan. Ralph had a very generous heart, and when seeing the needs of family, friends and others would offer assistance.  He loved his grandchildren and taught them many of the things he enjoyed.  In October of 1974, Ralph trusted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, claiming Romans 10:13 and Acts 2:21 as true in his life.  For many years he attended First Baptist Church in West Bend, WI.

Ralph is survived by his wife Miriam; his children Janet (Paul) Vogeler of Redgranite, WI; Christopher (Dona) Smith of Rio, WI; June (Michael) Backhaus of Sidney, MT; Lawrence Smith of West Bend, WI; Carol (Joseph) Ferlo of Oshkosh, WI.

His eleven grandchildren are Adam McCartney, Aaron McCartney, Katie Smith, Jake (Nikki) Smith, Daniel (Val) Backhaus, Bethany (Ryan) Backhaus Gunther, Luke Backhaus, Miriam Backhaus, Lindsey (Todd) Peterson Dovichi, Joel Peterson, Benjamin Peterson; and seven great-grandchildren.

He is preceded in death by his parents Edward and Natalie Smith.

A Funeral Service will be held at 10:30AM at the First Baptist Church (2300 South Main St. West Bend, WI) on Saturday, August 6, 2016 with Pastor Michael Backhaus presiding. Visitation will be at church from 9:30AM until the time of service.  Immediately following the service Interment will be at Washington County Memorial Park with full military honors.

In memory of Ralph, who participated in the honor flight in 2010, donations may be made to the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight organization at or PO Box 636, Port Washington, WI 53074.

We would like to thank Kim Reiland for caring for Ralph in his home for the past five years, with recent assistance from Nicole Huenerbein. We would also like to thank Seasons Hospice for their care and compassion during Ralph’s last months on earth.

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