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Ralph "David" Halbower Jr. '45 April 10, 2017 9:10 AM updated: April 10, 2017 9:14 AM

Published in (Fort Worth) Star-Telegram on Apr. 9, 2017

Ralph David Halbower Jr.(1923 - 2017)
Ralph David Halbower Jr. died Friday, April 7, 2017, at peace, living independently in his home, two months shy of his 94th birthday, when he was looking forward to renewing his driver's license. Service: 11 a.m. Wednesday at University Christian Church. Intermentl: Greenwood Memorial Park. Visitation: 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday at Thompson's Harveson & Cole. Memorials: In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Lily B. Clayton Elementary School PTA Auction (lilybclayton.org) or Paschal High School PTA. David was born June 6, 1923; his family's story is a part of the story of early Fort Worth. His maternal grandfather, Ulysses Julian Umbenhour, a pioneer contractor and builder, was a native of Kentucky, settling in Fort Worth in 1866. His maternal grandmother, Eliza Evans, came to Texas from Kentucky as an infant in 1856. Ulysses and Eliza married in Fort Worth in 1873, and had 11 children, nine of whom survived; Ulysses and Eliza are buried in Fort Worth's Pioneers Rest Cemetery. The oldest Umbenhour child, Julian, born in 1874, was the first stage manager for the old Majestic Theatre in Fort Worth, a vaudeville house that opened its doors in the early 1900s. His extensive collection of early Fort Worth show business and baseball memorabilia were donated to the Tarrant County Archives as the Umbenhour/Halbower Papers. A daughter, Edna, David's mother, married Ralph David Halbower Sr., a native of Illinois who, after college and two years of law school, found his professional calling at Montgomery Ward & Co., where, in 1921, he was appointed manager to the Fort Worth branch; it was under his direction that a new headquarters on West Seventh Street was completed, in 1928. He was a member of the Chamber of Commerce, a director of the Fat Stock Show, and a member of the Fort Worth Club and Rivercrest Country Club. Ralph Halbower died in 1931, at the age of 39; son David, an only child, was 7 years old. David attended Lily B. Clayton, McLean Middle School, and Paschal High, graduating in 1941; in the fall of 1941, he began college studies at Texas Tech University. After three semesters at Texas Tech, in early 1943, he applied for a position in pre-meteorology training to assist in the war effort. On March 1, 1943, he arrived at Mineral Wells, and from there was sent to study meteorology at the University of New Mexico for six months, followed by a year at the California Institute of Technology. On June 6, 1944 — his 21st birthday and D-Day -- he was commissioned as a second lieutenant of the U.S. Army Air Forces at Cal Tech. He remained in active duty until 1946. In August 1946, he resumed his studies at Texas A&M, graduating June 1948 at age 25, with a BS in Management Engineering. After completing his undergraduate degree, he was retroactively granted a Master's in Meteorology (MS) from Cal Tech for studies undertaken during the war. Post-graduation, he went to work for his uncle, R. Lee Umbenhour, president and a founder, with several siblings, in 1911 of Retail Druggist Selling System, Inc., which in 1952 became Texas Drug Company, a wholesale pharmaceutical distribution company. He married Kathryn Johns from Barberton, Ohio, in 1950, whom he met while she was a stewardess for American Airlines, flying from Cleveland to Meacham Field, and they had three daughters, Kathryn, Rebecca, and Susan. He eventually became president of Texas Drug Company, and in that capacity, was always on the cutting edge of the latest technology. He was well-respected by his peers in the industry, serving on the board of the National Wholesale Druggists' Association, and was beloved by his customers and many longtime employees. The company was sold in 1994. In later years, David and Kay traveled the world; rail trips on the Orient Express across China and Russia, and another through South Africa, were among their favorites, as was an expedition to the North Pole. David and Kay also enjoyed making trips to Taos, N.M., Marfa, Texas, and Nantucket, Mass., with their daughters and families. He was a longtime member of University Christian Church and Colonial Country Club, and an active practitioner of yoga, which he started at age 90. David was a gentleman, quietly elegant with a fine mind and sense of humor, disciplined and generous. He loved his family and a good meal (many at the Paris Coffee Shop!), and his native city. Though he lost his father at a young age, David was well-loved by his mother and his many Umbenhour aunts and uncles, a warm, lively, and gracious extended family from whom he learned how to laugh and to have an open, accepting mind. He was a devoted husband of 62 years, a wonderful and patient father to his three daughters and a kind grandfather to his three grandsons. He was "a prince of a fellow," as his mother-in-law used to say. David was preceded in death by his wife, Kathryn Johns Halbower. Survivors: Daughters, Kathy Halbower and her husband, David Johnson, of New York City, Rebecca Halbower and her husband, Robert Levi, of New York City, and Susan Halbower and her husband, Jay Mitiguy, of Fort Worth; and grandsons, William and Thomas Johnson, and David Levi.


Funeral Home
Thompson's Harveson & Cole
702 Eighth Ave. Fort Worth, TX 76106
817-336-0345


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