Ralph E. Pickett
July 16, 1926 - July 5, 2019
Ralph died peacefully with his wife of 59 years, Sheila Denise Pickett, by his side. He was born in the Bronx, NY to Ralph E. Pickett and Helen M. (Richardson) Pickett. His parents moved to Scarsdale, NY when he was two. Ralph attended Fox Meadow Grammar School and Scarsdale High School, from which he graduated in 1943. He entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he was a member of Theta Chi Fraternity. He joined the US Navy as an enlisted man in the Radio Technician program in the spring of 1944 and was assigned to the USS Fremont, a communications ship, in San Francisco. He was discharged at the war's end in September 1945 and returned to MIT, where he received his S.B. in Chemical Engineering in September 1949. Ralph joined Lever Brothers in Cambridge, MA as an Analytical Chemist and then in 1951 left to attend the University of Texas, where he received an M.S. in Chemical Engineering in January 1953. He transferred to Yale University Graduate School in the Ph.D. program. In September 1956, he accepted an offer from IBM and joined the company in the Hartford sales office as an Applied Science Representative. Ralph became the New England Manager of Applied Science in Boston in the spring of 1959, then joined the staff of the IBM Executive Development Department in Sands Point, Long Island, in June 1960. In 1964 he became Manager of Planning for IBM Science Centers, and Assistant to the President of IBM in February 1965. Ralph moved to California to join the newly formed Advanced Computer System project in spring of 1966 as Marketing Manager. Over the years he held a number of positions in IBM's General Products Division in both product planning and financial planning. Ralph retired from IBM in 1987 as Senior Planner.
Ralph married the love of his life, Sheila Denise Smith, in Boston in May 1960. At that time, she taught for IBM in the Boston office. Their children, Sheila, Siobhan, Ralph III and Michael were all born on Long Island, but grew up in Saratoga, CA, where the family moved in 1966. Both Ralph and Sheila had a consuming interest in art, acquiring their first piece at an auction on Long Island, and continuing their collecting in California. Sheila had become a docent at the San Jose Museum of Art, and after his retirement Ralph followed in her footsteps. He was a member of the Board of the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art from 1988 until 1993, as was Sheila from 1995 until 2010. Their travels usually centered around an area's art scene and included: Biennales in Venice, Documentas in Kassel, the Munster Sculpture Fair in Germany, Paris, even Havana, and art fairs in many US cities. Sheila survives him, as do his much-loved children, Sheila (Craig Huber), Siobhan Pickett (Gary Bartlett), Michael, Ralph (Kelly), and grandchildren Aidan, Cuinn, and Siobhan Huber; Isabelle Bartlett; Michael and Sallie Martin's son Tyler; Ralph and Kelly's children Braden and Rebecca; and Kelly's children David and Miranda Felty. Ralph was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Elizabeth Tremulis, and his grandson Bradley Smith Pickett. Ralph will be deeply missed, especially for his kind and gentle manner, his interest and intellect, and his witty humor.
A memorial mass will be celebrated August 17, 2019 at 12:00 pm at Sacred Heart Church in Saratoga. In lieu of flowers, the family invites you to make donations to the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art. Please contact Siobhan at email@example.com with questions about the service.
Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on Jul. 13, 2019.