May 21, 1921 - November 25, 2013
Resident of Oakland, CA
Ralph Percy Countryman, Navy veteran, attorney, supporter of the arts and environmental causes, and buoyant spirit, was born May 21, 1921, in Piedmont, CA, to Russell Louis Countryman and Muriel Kelley Countryman.
His father nick-named him "Bounty", either because they weren't expecting a third son, or because Ralph's generous, zestful nature was already apparent.
Ralph attended Beach Elementary School and Piedmont High, where he distinguished himself in student plays.That was when his aunt Edith Garthwaite his mother's sister, introduced him to music, and particularly to the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan, which remained a lifelong joy. At UC Berkeley, where he studied business, he edited the 1942 yearbook, the "Blue and Gold", and enlisted in Navy ROTC.
Upon graduation in 1942, Ralph joined the Supply Corps, and served in the Pacific throughout the Second World War. He was present aboard the Missouri at the signing of the peace treaty between the U.S. and Japan. After the war, he continued serving in the Far East, the Mediterranean, and Chicago, and at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.
After retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Commander, in 1965, Ralph returned to Oakland. Not content with one career of service, Ralph enrolled at Hastings Law School, at the same time teaching at Oakland Technical High School and at other schools. On earning his J.D., Ralph went to work for the Alameda Country District Attorney's office, as a prosecutor. Ralph had to exert himself to handle the same heavy case-loads as much younger men, but he found the work engaging and invigorating.
A lifelong fan of college football, gymnastics, and weightlifting, Ralph was recognized by the California State Police Olympics, and by the National Physique Committee for his contributions to the system of judging bodybuilding.
After retiring as a deputy district attorney in 1984, Ralph continued to enjoy photography, ballet, music of all sorts, and travel, visiting nearly every county courthouse in the U.S. He recently revisited Carmel and Yosemite, which he always considered the most beautiful place on earth. After a short hospitalization for stroke, he died peacefully at home on November 25. He is survived by his brother Walter's children, Lois Garland of Irvine and Russell of Bakersfield, and his brother David's children: Carol Costello, Kathy, Ian, Susan, and Brian in Washington State; Bruce of Houston TX; Kevin of San Francisco; Teresa and Peter of Oakland; Tom of Washington D.C.; Mary Ellen of Jakarta, Indonesia; and Joan Moore of Manassas, VA.
Ralph was cheerful, witty, unfailingly polite and considerate-the favorite uncle even of people who were no relation. He was steadfast in his justice and kindness, anchored deep, so that he could buoy up others who were troubled by surface storms and swells. Nearly every morning, he would say, "Another beautiful day!" He said this without looking out the window, because it was not a perception-it was an intention. Ralph Countryman reflected life as he was determined to find it: bountiful, buoyant, beautiful.
A celebration of his life will be held on May 18, 2014. Friends who wish to attend should contact his niece Teresa at his home address, or at UncleRalphUSN@Gmail.com
In place of flowers, donations may be made to the Alameda County Community Food Bank, the Lamplighters, the Yosemite Fund, or the AIDS Emergency Fund.