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Ralph Ortolano


1931 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Ralph J. Ortolano



A 46 year resident of Rancho Palos Verdes, passed away in his sleep on January 27, 2017 after a long illness. He was 85 years old. Ralph was born in Philadelphia, in 1931, to Frank and Mary Ortolano (nee DiLuzio), both of whom predeceased him.

Ralph graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y., in 1954. While at Kings Point, he was the first midshipman to achieve All-American in two sports, rifle and pistol. The Academy honored him by naming its shooting range the Ralph J. Ortolano Rifle and Pistol Range in 1999. After graduation, he served in the United States Navy on the aircraft carrier USS Leyte (CVS-32) during the Korean War. He later qualified in the U.S. Navy as a submarine officer. Upon discharge from the Navy, at the rank of Lieutenant, Ralph worked for Westinghouse Corp., first in Lester, PA and then in Sunnyvale, CA. While working in Sunnyvale, he earned an MBA at Santa Clara University.

Ralph considered his having participated in the design of the propulsion systems for the first nuclear powered submarine and the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier to be the highlight of his career. He declined a Westinghouse transfer back to Pennsylvania, having fallen in love with California. He next worked for Litton Industries, managing the design and construction of propulsion systems for the Tarawa-class Landing Helicopter Attack ships. In 1972, he commenced employment with Southern California Edison, specializing in steam turbine blading for general and nuclear power plants. In 1992, SCE honored him with the William R. Gould Award for engineering and operating excellence. He retired from Edison as a Senior Engineer-Scientist in 1998. Prior to retiring from SCE, he founded Turbine Rescue, a worldwide consulting company, and continued to work as a consultant in the electric power industry for approximately 15 more years.

An expert on the design of steam turbines, Ralph was a Fellow, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and was honored in 1991 with the Society's highest recognition, the George Westinghouse Gold Medal. He authored more than 100 technical papers and was issued at least 38 patents.

Ralph is survived by his spouse of 59 years, Joan (nee Shores), his three children, Ralph Jr., Cathy Coffin, and Jeanne Marie Whitehouse, as well as nine grandchildren. Ralph loved golf, sailing, and spending time with his children and their families. He was proud of both of his daughters as they raised their children and pursued business enterprises: Cathy, a ranch in Colorado; Jeanne, a cafe in Vacaville, Calif. He was an Eagle Scout and served as a Den Leader and Scout Master for the Boy Scouts of America troop at Mira Catalina Elementary School when his son was young. He was particularly proud of his son graduating from his alma mater-the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy-with an academic star and retiring from the United States Navy at the rank of Captain. Each and every member of his family will miss him greatly.

A Memorial Service will be held at St. John Fisher Catholic Church in Rancho Palos Verdes at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 2, 2017. Burial will take place in Broomall, Penn. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that those who want to honor Ralph's memory may make a donation to the Mary Star of the Sea Maritime Ministry in San Pedro, Calif. Please sign the guestbook at www.dailybreeze.com/obits
Published in Daily Breeze from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, 2017
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