Ralph Ronald Wetmore was born on August 21, 1922 on his family farm in Port Allegany, Pennsylvania. Born to John and Bethel Meachum Wetmore, Ralph was born on the kitchen table. He was the 2nd son in the family. One older brother Lawrence and 2 older sisters, Davona and Dorothy and one younger brother, Jack (11 years younger.)
Ralph and brother Lawrence had the chore of going across a dirt road and up a very steep hill every morning to bring cows to the barn for milking. The milk was put in large steel containers and set out for the local milk company for pick up. After the milking chores were done, Ralph and Lawrence walked 3 miles to catch the school bus.
Returning in the afternoon, they walked the same 3 miles (sometimes in snow) to milk the cows again. Ralph and his brothers were also responsible for collecting the maple sap from the trees on their farm and then took it to the processing building. After the processing, the syrup was sold to help with the family income. Ralph was accustomed to working hard and helping to support his family.
Ralph joined the Army in 1944 so his brother Lawrence wouldn’t have to go. He and many more men were placed on a train going to the west coast and then on a ship headed to India. The trip was very rough out on the ocean. One day after arriving on base, the quarter master came to the barracks asking if anyone could type. The Captain’s helper had become ill and could not finish his job. Everyone just stood there not saying a word, until one of Ralph’s friends spoke up and volunteered Ralph to type. Ralph was shocked, as he had been told to never volunteer info. Well, he later realized that was wrong. He had the best job working in the office and was trusted to be able to use a jeep to go to town. He was granted many privileges from then on.
Upon returning from his enlistment in the army, Ralph married Lois Edwards.They lived in Warren, Pennsylvania. While in Pennsylvania, two daughters were born. Donna and Bonnie. Their third daughter Connie was born in Texas after the family moved to Keene, for Ralph to work with Bascum Church Furniture. Years later the Brandom Brothers from California bought Bascums. Overnight Ralph went from selling church pews to kitchen cabinets.
In 1961 Ralph moved his family to Gentry, Arkansas to start a factory for Brandom Kitchens, and was the Plant Manager. When Brandoms burned in 1968, Ralph was a vital part in helping to rebuild the plant and get them back on their feet. Ralph often reminisced about his co-workers(friends) in Gentry......Larry Rahm, Derek Miller, Larry Daggs, Jess Shultz, Ken Polk, Troy Lovell, Ron Fetters.
Ralph was always a part of his Church and enjoyed serving on the building committee. He helped design and complete plans to build the new Gentry Church. Many of his friends, including Don Weaver, Bill Young, Chris Christianson, Lyman Williams and Pastor Eugene Johnson worked to erect the new church. In 1974, the church was completed and all were ready to move in.
During the time in Gentry, the girls attended Ozark Academy. Music was a very important part of the Wetmore home. Ralph and the girls were asked for special music on numerous occasions. Ralph was a lover of animals, and enjoyed raising cows. During this time, Ralph owned a small plane and learned to fly. He enjoyed taking his friends for “memorable” rides. LOL
One of Ralph’s most fondest memories during the early years in Gentry was racing cars with his good buddy; Dr. Bob Weaver. In 1976, Brandom Kitchens called Ralph back to Keene, TX. to be Plant Manager and also serve as the Purchasing Agent. Ralph married Judi Birdwell Sonsel in October, 1982 in Cleburne, Texas. Ralph loved children and was excited to help raise Judi’s sons: Tom(13) and Doug (12). The family spent many happy times in Cleburne, with all Ralph’s children and grandchildren, visiting from Arkansas.
After his retirement from Brandoms in the late 80’s, Ralph continued to fill in at Brandoms and help install cabinets for his good friend, Mickey Seiler in the Texas area. During his retirement, Ralph was able to spend time on his many hobbies and interests which included; working with his homing pigeons, trucks, new cars, motorcycles, traveling and gardening. He built his two story storage building, and a large gazebo. He perfected his yard and garden where he grew and produced the most delicious tomatoes ever eaten!
In 1999 Ralph decided that he and Judi would move back to Gentry where he could spend more time with his grandchildren and help Connie and Paul with their rental properties. He continued to help out in the office until 2016. He was known for his great record keeping . . . . just ask Paul.
In 2008 he was diagnosed with dementia and later Alzheimer’s. With all of the problems that came slowly into his life, he was still a very sweet, gentle and quiet man that was loved so dearly by each member of his large family.
Ralph was a 4th generation Seventh-day Adventist and was a member of the Springtown Seventh-day Adventist Church. He loved the little church on the hill and attending the camp meetings with all of the music programs. His favorite part was all the former employees and friends that would come up to him and let him know they recognized him. He loved visiting with them.
We were blest that only hours before he passed, Jack Coelho had visited and asked Judi about Pastor Larry Yeagley to come and annoint Ralph. Ralph was surrounded with his family and loved ones. Friday afternoon February 2, 2018 Ralph was ready for the Sabbath to come. He had his bath, his hair was washed and he was laying on a clean pillow slip and sheets. Just before closing his eyes for the final time he looked at his Hospice aide with his big blue eyes and smiled. She said, it was the most beautiful, peaceful smile she had ever seen in all her years of Hospice. We are most sure that he could see his sweet Jesus in her face. At 3:38 pm Ralph went to sleep in Jesus. Ralph was 95 years old.
Ralph was preceeded in death by his parents and all his siblings;
Remaining are his wife Judi of Gentry, Arkansas; his Daughter; Donna Wetmore Swinyar and husband David of Florida; Grandson, David Swinyar; Granddaughter, Diane Cverko and husband Alex and their children; Great Grandsons, Jackson and Ben. His Daughter; Bonnie Wetmore Clark and husband Terry of Arkansas; Grandson, Ryan Barnard; Grandson Paul Cox III and wife Mendy; Great Granddaughter Madison and Great Grandson Hunter. His Daughter; Connie Wetmore Church and Husband Paul of Arkansas; Grandson PJ Church and wife Annou of California; Granddaughters; Merideth Church, Tonessa Church, Autumn Church, all from California; Granddaughter Sami Jo Johnson and husband Mike of California; great grandsons, Cruz and Zayde and first great granddaughter to arrive in June 2018; Granddaughter, Cassi Creech and Husband Jon of California; Granddaughter, Cori Homer and Husband Jarrod of Nebraska. Judi’s Son; Tom Sonsel and Wife Kim of Texas; Granddaughter, Jordan and Grandson, Jake Judi’s Son; Doug Sonsel and Wife Becky of Texas; and Grandsons, Dakota and Beau Beau’s middle name is Ronald, named after PaPa Ralph. And of course ....... many, many friends!
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