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Ralph James Koerner


1929 – 2012 - | Obituary Condolences
Ralph James Koerner Obituary
Ralph J. Koerner, 83, passed away at his home in Ramona on October 27, 2012. Ralph was an Electronic Engineer and an inventor who had a broad knowledge in many diverse fields. Ralph joined the U.S. Navy while he was in High School, served as a weekend warrior, and pursued a budding interest in electronics there. He was in an officer-training program in the Navy and became an Ensign after graduating from college. He graduated from U.C.L.A. with a degree in Electrical Engineering, all the while working part-time to support his family.
He worked for Bunker-Ramo and Librascope Corp. in San Fernando Valley. While there, he began inventing new ways to access memory in early computers (1962). He created an autopilot for boaters and invented and formed a company to manufacture traffic detection devices installed at intersections throughout the world. His company, Canoga Controls, was in Canoga Park where the family resided for 22 years until Ralph and Dot retired to Ramona. They picked Ramona because of its airport with more sunny days than any other in San Diego County.
Ralph kept working on inventions at home. He added several more patents to his credit after he "retired". At age 74 he was working to develop a device to make free-motion stitching with a sewing machine easier. With no company making sewing machines in the U.S., he took his prototype to Switzerland and sold it to Bernina Sewing Machine Company. The Bernina Stitch Regulator, or BSR, made him a hero to many quilters worldwide.
He was a quintessential student, over the years taking college classes in astronomy, geology and glass blowing. His curiosity and sense of adventure lead him to learn sailing, flying, soaring and scuba diving. He followed his interests with an intensity that lead to incredible adventures such as sailing off the Mexican coast, flying his light plane, soaring in sailplanes, hiking, and reaching a lost gold mine in the White Mountains. In his golden years he became fascinated with the game of Bridge, which he and Dot played with friends in Ramona.
While Ralph battled cancer this year, he finished the book he was writing and left his family a great treasure, in addition to his "love"; a book he wrote about his special life, career and adventures. His memoirs, "Tell Everybody I Loved 'em", was published by Lulu and the first books arrived just two weeks before his passing, so he knew that project was completed and would be there for his grandchildren.
Ralph's wife of 62 years, Dorothy, and four children, sons, Steve (Lancette) of Mesa, AZ, Mike (Fran) of Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. Ken of L.A., and daughter, Sue (Patrick) Long of Corvallis, OR, survive him. He was predeceased by son, Bob, but survived by Bob's widow, Valerie of Vancouver, WA. His progeny includes ten grandchildren, all with college educations; and four great-grandchildren.
His life will be celebrated in a graveside service, November 21, 2012, at I:30 pm at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma, San Diego, California.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to the Salvation Army in his name, or a .
Published in the Ramona Sentinel on Nov. 15, 2012
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