A man of adventure, Ralph W. Nestor, 73, died Dec. 9, 2012, at his home in rural Cashton, Wis.
Born on Nov. 25, 1939, to Ralph W. and Mildred (Bruce) Nestor in Teaneck, N.J., Ralph grew up in New Jersey, and attended Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1961; a Bachelor of Science degree in 1966, and a Master of Science degree in 1970.
Ralph lived in a multitude of places, from Nassau, Bahamas, to Gentilly, Minn. His favorite was Fairbanks. Ralph moved to Fairbanks in 1974 because a favorite radio program was "Sergeant Preston in the Yukon."
Ralph was a professor of business administration, initially at Cornell University, then in the University of Minnesota
system, and then at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he was head of the Travel Industry Management Program. While teaching classes in tourism and wine tasting, Ralph also loved to start new businesses. He ran a general store in Goldstream, several gift shops in Fairbanks, started the Real Alaska Mushing Company catalog, was a partner in a fishing lodge, and ran the Malamute Saloon and Cripple Creek Hotel in Ester.
Ralph loved to hunt and fish. One of his first successes was a muskrat that he and a high school friend skinned and hung from a clothesline in suburban New Jersey, to the outrage of the neighbors. In later years, he hunted and fished throughout North America. His trophies included musk ox, Kodiak bear, black bear, elk, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, antelope, mountain goats, lynx, mountain lion, and too many deer and turkeys to count. Waterfowl throughout North America also came to fear Ralph.
Ralph was an accomplished dog musher. He trained and raised his own sled dogs and raced in the Yukon Quest and other races in Alaska.
Throughout his life, he trained many beloved Labradors for bird hunting. He also learned to hunt on horseback and went for recreational rides in the Dakotas, Missouri, Montana and other states. Ralph loved snowmachining and competed in the Tired Iron, a vintage snowmachine race in Fairbanks.
Ralph also was known for endangering his friends and relatives on some of his adventures. Ranging from getting lost in fogged-in mountain passes, to snapping a canoe in half in the Gulkana River, to hauling a caribou on a horse while taking a "shortcut" through a marsh and almost losing the horse in the quagmire. Ralph always had Lady Luck beside him.
Ralph was a gourmet cook who shared recipes with his friends and published them in magazines and on the Internet. In particular, he developed recipes for cooking wild game and fresh produce from his garden. If you sat down at his table, you knew better than to not finish everything on your plate.
Ralph was a volunteer with the North American Squirrel Association (nasa) in providing hunting and fishing experiences for elderly and handicapped persons. He also mentored many young people in learning to hunt and fish.
Ralph is survived by his wife of 27 years, Patricia (Larson) Nestor; his son, Shaun (Melody Kokrine, Charles Kokrine, Sage Kokrine), of Fairbanks; his son, Bruce (Susana, Alan and Citlalitl); numerous nieces and nephews, in-laws and great and grand-nieces and nephews, and numerous great friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Barbara Lee.
A remembrance service will be held at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, at the Coulee Region Cremation Group, 133 Mason Street, Onalaska, Wis. A visitation will be held from 1-3:30 p.m. Saturday at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the North American Squirrel Association.
Thanks go to Sanford Regional Medical Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., Gundersen Lutheran Hospice, and the support and love from family and friends.
Online condolences may be left at www.couleecremation.com.