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Ralph Smith Jr. '59 November 2, 2022 2:26 PM updated: November 2, 2022 2:45 PM

Ralph A. Smith, Jr.
May 31, 1932 - October 26, 2022

Ralph Alexander Smith, Jr., 90, passed away Wednesday, October 26, 2022 at 11:13 p.m. at High Desert Haven, Ridgecrest, Calif.

His funeral will be held Veteran’s Day, Friday, November 11, 2022 at Immanuel Baptist Church on Graaf Street at 10:00 a.m. His Grandson-in-law, Karsten Sween, will officiate. Ralph will be interned at Desert Memorial Park, Ridgecrest, CA. There will be a reception afterwards at the Immanuel Baptist Church IMC building located on China Lake Boulevard.

Ralph was the first born of Ralph A. and Ruby Mae (Snearly) Smith in Shreveport, LA on May 31, 1932. Four years later, his younger and only brother James Otis (known as Ben to his family) was born and the two quickly became inseparable. Ralph graduated high school in Luling, TX in 1950, attended Trinity University, San Antonio, TX for 1 year, then enlisted in the United States Navy in 1951. Ralph saw combat aboard the USS James E. Kyes (DD787) during the Korean conflict where his ship was awarded ”Train Buster” for its actions. Prior to his honorable discharge in 1955, he married his high school sweetheart Betty Jeanette May on July 11, 1953 living in Long Beach, CA.

Ralph graduated from Texas A&M, College Station, TX in 1959 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. He continued his service to the US Navy for the whole of his professional career at both the Naval Ordnance Lab, Corona from 1959 to 1971 and the Naval Weapons Center, China Lake, CA retiring in 1989. While raising 3 children, Ralph enjoyed attending countless school functions, building a dune buggy & sand rail, Boy Scouts, backpacking, fishing, and camping. After retirement he and Betty continued to enjoy RV camping, visiting family around the country, fishing, woodworking, making toys and ship models. Ralph was a longtime member of Immanuel Baptist Church, Ridgecrest, CA serving as church treasurer, Deacon and Trustee.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Betty and his son-in-law Michael Dawson.

Ralph is survived by his brother James (Ben) Smith of Teague, TX; three children: Ralph (Kris) Smith of Crystal Lake, IL, Wendy (Bill) Coward of Ridgecrest, CA, and Angie (Mark) Atkinson of Hernando, FL; 8 grandchildren: Michael Dawson Jr., Ridgecrest, CA, Jackie (Scott) Hayden, Crystal Lake, IL, Jen (Stephen) Frankmann, Richardson, TX, Jacob Smith, Peoria Heights, IL, Stephanie (William) Baken, Ridgecrest, CA, Alex (Karsten) Sween, Cheyenne, WY, Nicole Atkinson, Fort Collins, CO, Mitchel Atkinson, Hernando, FL; and 11 great-grandchildren.

Ralph loved his family very much and was greatly loved by them all. He lived an impactful life to his friends, colleagues and everyone he met.


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