PENDLETON Ralph P. Thompson, 82, died on Friday, Feb. 9, at St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton.
Ralph was born on Jan. 27, 1925 in Morton, Wash., the son of Jewell Leonard Thompson and Ida Frances Cassell Thompson. He was delivered by midwife, his Aunt Gladys, half sister to Jewell. At a tender young age as a toddler, his family moved to Missouri with the hope of an easier life during the oncoming Depression era. He was the sixth child of eight five boys and three girls. Four of those siblings are still alive: Vivian Poulton of Burley, Idaho, George David Thompson of Eugene, Vince Thompson of Lewiston, Idaho, and Ruth of Medford.
As he grew up in the farm life in Missouri, he made time separate from farm chores to study plant life and animal life, hunting and fishing. He experimented during rare spare moments with inventing, and crafted a hand-made short wave radio from cast off farming equipment pieces, and later became an avid hunter and fisherman, quite knowledgeable about wilderness survival.
He capitalized on his home-gained knowledge and inventiveness about electronics when he was selected to serve as a radioman in the Coast Guard on an LST. He witnessed the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima. After his discharge, he briefly worked on hay farms in S.E. Idaho before moving to Prairie City where he logged for a short time, and married a local beauty, Adeline Kimball, in November 1947.
Thereafter he moved his wife and first child, Wesley, to Klamath Falls, where he graduated as a licensed and registered Professional land surveyor from O.T.I., from which he made his living as a surveyor for the rest of his life.
Upon graduation from O.T.I., he moved for a short time to Richland, Wash., where he worked on construction of the nuclear plant during war time operations at Hanford, where Harvey was born, and then to Pendleton where he surveyed full-time for the city, county, and then his own business. During this time Cheryl was born in John Day. He eventually was elected as county surveyor for Umatilla County. As his two boys grew, he taught them fine art of fishing and hunting and loved of the outdoors. He enjoyed frequent horse packing trips in the Blue Mountains with his daughter, who lived horses.
He was divorced in 1982 and remained single thereafter, fiercely independent, remaining close to his grandchildren with whom he took frequent hunting and fishing trips where he passed on his knowledge of wilderness survival skills. He was proud of his children and grandchildren, all of them with their individual cluster of skills and knowledge. Two granddaughters were in the Navy, his eldest son an officer in the Army, the second son successful in art and a pilot, another granddaughter a professional commercial airline pilot and graduate of the elite Embry Riddle University, and a grandson who is a skilled electrician, and all the grandchildren were proud of and very attached to their grandfather.
He had three children, four grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.
Ralph was deeply religious and loved gospel music. He played six- and 12-string guitar and five-string banjo and sang. He played, sang, and preached in local jails and prisons until his later years, when he concentrated his talents more on the local church groups and senior activities.
In his declining years, he remained healthy and loved the outdoors, and ultimately succumbed to a massive stroke on Feb. 9, with his family in attendance and very much loved by them.
He will be missed sorely by those who knew and loved him, and appreciated his keen sense of humor and good natured ability to sing a song for any occasion.
A memorial service is planned for later this summer. Disposition was by cremation.
Burns Mortuary of Hermiston was in charge of the arrangements.