Ralph passed away December 15, 2017, after a sudden acute illness. He was surrounded by family and friends, with his beloved Gwen holding his hand.
Born on December 27, 1932, in Flushing New York, Ralph was the youngest of four children of George A. and Selma (Fürst) Schamel. He graduated from Bordentown Military Institute, then attended Cornell University on an ROTC scholarship, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 1956. At Cornell, he met Gwendolyn DeFiore (Cornell '57). Ralph served in the Army, and subsequently the Army Reserve, retiring as a lieutenant.
In 1958, Ralph and Gwen were married in White Plains, New York. They moved to Salt Lake City in 1959, where they raised 4 children. Ralph worked for the Utah State Department of Transportation, starting on a survey crew, and working up to a position as Environmental Engineer.
Ralph was an avid outdoorsman, enjoying hunting, fishing, boating, camping and bicycling. He designed and hand-built two family campers, in which the family traveled around the western United States and made cross-country trips to visit family on the East Coast. Later, he traveled the world on group bicycle expeditions, often with one of his sisters and/or immediate family members. He was also a Certified Hunter Safety instructor, as well as an officer in the Salt Lake Rifle and Pistol Association, for many years.
Starting at age 17, Ralph was a committed volunteer for the Red Cross - ultimately donating more than 80 gallons of whole blood. He was a Deacon and Elder at Cottonwood Presbyterian Church, as well as a volunteer at both Cottonwood Pressyterian and St. Vincent's Catholic church and school. He was always available to help friends, neighbors...even strangers, when he observed a need.
Ralph is survived by his wife Gwendolyn; children Peter, Lisa (Schamel) Cundall, Chuck and John; five grandchildren: Ellen, Katherine and James Schamel, Abigail and Devin Cundall; sister Dorothy (Schamel) Laser, and her family. He was predeceased (by one month) by his sister Barbara (Bobbi), and, before his own birth, by his brother, known as "Sunny."
A celebration of his life will be held on Thursday, December 21, 2017 from 6:00 - 8:00 PM at Starks Funeral Parlor, 3651 South 900 East, Salt Lake City. Guests are encouraged to use the complimentary valet parking on the north side of the building. A memorial service will be held on January 13, 2018 at 2:00 PM at Cottonwood Presbyterian Church, 1580 East Vine Street, Salt Lake City.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider one or more of the following:
Contributing to the National Wildlife Federation, or the Nature Conservancy
Respecting, protecting, supporting and visiting local and national parks, monuments, wildlife & nature preserves and open spaces (taking only pictures and memories, and leaving only footprints)