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Ralph Erman Deeds Jr.

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Ralph Erman Deeds Jr. Obituary
Ralph Erman Deeds, Jr.

Birmingham - Ralph, age 82, died peacefully and surrounded by family on March 1, 2018 after a brief illness. Born in Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, Ralph spent his formative years in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and was a longtime resident of Birmingham, Michigan. He was proud of his family roots in cattle ranching in the Sandhills of north central Nebraska. In a long career as a labor relations executive, Ralph served General Motors for 34 years, where he contributed to labor policy decisions and contract negotiations with the UAW and other unions. He spoke Spanish and Portuguese, which were useful on frequent trips to Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico and other Latin American countries in his position as Director, International Labor Relations. After leaving GM, he joined the Clinton administration in 1994 as Special Assistant to the Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board. After returning to Michigan from Washington, DC in 1998, he was appointed to the State of Michigan Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, where he served until 2004, after which he advocated on behalf of individual claimants for unemployment compensation in appeal hearings. Ralph was a graduate of Cornell University ('57) and Harvard Business School ('60) and served as a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves until 1966. Ralph is survived by his wife Tucker (nee Tilley), children Eric Deeds (Joma Jones, San Francisco, CA), Sarah Deeds (John McBride, Berkeley, CA), and Paul Deeds (Mausmi Mehta, Berkeley, CA) and grandchildren Nora and Miles Deeds, Willa McBride, and Kavi and Mira Deeds, as well as his brothers Dana Deeds (Tucson, AZ) and Tom Deeds (Bantam, CT), and sister Nancy Meister (Tucson, AZ). He loved his family and friends dearly. Ralph was passionate about many things, including particularly the Democratic Party and political affairs, and he contributed many letters to the editor of publications such as The New York Times and Detroit Free Press and to many lively discussions in online forums such as The Mote. He was also a prolific and talented amateur photographer, and was a longtime and very active member of Crescent Sail Yacht Club in Grosse Pointe Farms, where he raced The Lorax, his Express 27 sailboat. A memorial gathering will be held at Crescent on a date to be determined in the coming summer. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Crescent Sailing Association, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supporting youth and adult learn to sail programs, or to the Southern Poverty Law Center (

Published in Detroit Free Press & The Detroit News on Mar. 5, 2018
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