Ralph passed peacefully, two days after returning from a memorable trans-Atlantic cruise where he and wife Carol celebrated their life together. Ralph was born in Los Angeles, California, to Lucile Renno and Norman Gaskins. He had two brothers and a sister who predeceased him. Ralph graduated from John C. Fremont High School (Los Angeles) in 1942. Precluded from military service by perforated ear drums, Ralph worked nights building aircraft at Northrop Corporation while finishing high school. After high school, Ralph joined Sonia Henie's "Hollywood Ice Revue," and spent the next ten years touring the country as a professional ice skater. In 1952, Ralph returned to Northrop, starting in the accounting department. Always motivated by his hallmark curiosity to learn about new ideas and trends, Ralph quickly recognized that computers were about to play a significant role in the workplace, and became certified to operate the UNIVAC (one of the first electronic general purpose computers). For the next 38 years Ralph worked as a Systems Analyst in the Information Technology departments of various aerospace companies, beginning at Northrop and ending at North American Rockwell. While working, he achieved a lifelong goal by earning a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of La Verne in 1985. Always athletic, after retiring from skating, Ralph started long distance running. He regularly ran marathons until the age of 60. Ralph and Carol enjoyed downhill skiing until three years ago when health issues prevented it. He was a proficient dancer throughout his life: Ralph and Carol danced on their last cruise while other passengers watched admiringly. Ralph's grandson, Matt, still talks about Grandpa Ralph's "moves" at Matt's wedding. In 1953, Ralph married Patricia Darst. Ralph and Pat had three children, William, John, and Nancy; Ralph also raised as his own, Pat's two children from a previous marriage, Catherine Patney and Lee (deceased). Ralph and Pat later divorced. At Rockwell, Ralph met Carol Burket Anderson, a retired school teacher then working in IT at Rockwell. They married in 1987, and Ralph became very close to Carol's grown children: Gail, Chuck, and Jenine. Ralph was a loving grandfather to Jeff, Melissa, Nicholas, Chris, Matt, Alyssa, Lauren, Kelly, and Brian, and great-grandfather to Georgia, Emma, Jonah, Lexie, Luke, Malia, and Elliot. Ralph retired from Rockwell in 1990, and was "the wind beneath Carol's wings" as she continued to work until 1995. Never too old to try new things, Ralph took piano lessons and became a tax preparer. In 1995 they moved from Los Angeles to Palm Desert, where Ralph was very active with the Palm Springs Community Concert Association (PSCCA). Ralph was buried at Desert Memorial Park (Cathedral City) in a private ceremony. In lieu of flowers, a contribution to the PSCCA would be welcomed.
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Published in The Desert Sun from Oct. 4 to Oct. 6, 2013