Ralph Kelley Ungermann
1942 - 2015
{ "" }
Share Ralph's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Ralph Kelley Ungermann
Resident of San Francisco
Ralph Kelley Ungermann departed peacefully, surrounded by family on June 2 after bravely battling Parkinson's disease. Ralph was born 1/20/42 in Provo Utah. His family moved to Santa Paula, California when he was three.
Due to his illustrious career in Silicon Valley, Ralph was considered a founding father of the data communication industry, and often described as one of the most important minds of the computer era.
In 1974 he co-founded Zilog, the first company dedicated to microprocessor production for the personal computer. In 1978 he co-founded Ungermann-Bass, which dominated the LAN side of computing and networking. His final startup was in 1994 when he founded First Virtual Corp, which created software to allow the transfer of data, images, sound and video conferencing on-line. Ralph's final venture began in 2003 with the co-founding of China Seed LLC, a Shanghai based Venture Capital firm with focused investments in China and Taiwan.
Often described as a visionary, he touched many lives in an important way. He helped elevate human communications to a higher level through technology. He once said, "I like to pioneer things, create a space that does not exist. If you can imagine it, you can create it. It is much more fun and challenging to create an industry, than to follow someone else".
Ralph was a lover of nature, animals and all living things. He enjoyed fine wines, a life of adventure and travel, learning new things, and sharing with his loved ones.
He is survived by his wife Ellen Coleman Ungermann, his daughter Annette Kelly, his son Scott Ungermann, and his six grandchildren Anastasia Scheichl, Scott Kelly, William Kelly, Christina, Annette, and Francesca Ungermann. His siblings were Eileen Miller, Mary Schultz, Phillip Ungermann, and Kathleen Van Ausdal.
His life celebration will be held at Fernwood Funeral Home, 301 Tennessee Valley Road, Mill Valley, CA 94941 on June 28th at 12:00pm.
Donations may be made in his memory to: SFSPCA 201 Alabama St. San Francisco, CA 94103.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on Jun. 7, 2015.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by San Jose Mercury News
Not sure what to say?
View Printed Guest Book
19 entries
June 2, 2020
It was a pleasure working for Ungermann Bass and having an opportunity to meet you. My condolences go out to your family.
Diane Boles
November 1, 2018
I had the pleasure of working with Ralph as a member (officer) of the UB Users Group and of course a customer of UB. I always enjoyed our conversations, his listening to our needs as consumers and his positive approach. Wonderful person whom I admired and respected.

Thank you Ralph. You were a one of a kind visionary and a great person as well.
Phil Kurtiak
December 3, 2016
My condolences on this great loss not only to you, his family but to the world at large. I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Ungermann on several occasions when my now former husband, Dennis Lynn worked at UNGERMANN-BASS in the '80's. Dennis really enjoyed working at UB. He said Ralph the best boss he ever had. I remember his sense of humor, as was evident at one ROMAN TOGA PARTY. I still laugh. Ralph really was an awesome individual and he is greatly missed.
Robin Lynn
August 30, 2016
I remember the company from my earliest days in DP
Nelson Steinschweiker
June 27, 2016
I met Ralph several times in Shanghai and at one time asked him to join our Board. he was the most sincere, smartest man I have ever met and his loss will be felt by many.
John Du Bois
October 27, 2015
I have being working in UB Japan for 5 years knowing Ralf as my best CEO in my life even now. Visiting HQ. Ralf always shared his smile and friendly talk to me. One day when I ask Ralf to come to Japan and meet our office staff and customer, he immediate set the date and visited Japan several time. It was my honor to host him all the time in Japan. My big memory with Ralf was to visit Mr. Son of Softbank in an old days from now. I have learned a lot from Ralf, and I still keep my mind sharing the important time with him.
Ralf thank you very much.
Pasquale Kobayashi
June 30, 2015
It was a privilege to work in the executive offices of Ungermann-Bass in the mid-80's and support Ralph directly. He was a kind and quiet, yet powerful leader. He is gone too soon. My prayers and condolences are with Scott & Annette, your families and all who loved him well. Goodbye RKU.
Carolyn Pund
June 30, 2015
He was known by his middle name, Kelley, by family and close friends. I married him in 1961 and we had a strong partnership in many ways We produced two wonderful children, who just gave profound eulogies at his memorial. We also worked together to help found LOGCAP, a logic simulation program, and ZILOG. Our divorce was amicable and we both went on in different paths, but our paths always crossed because of our children and grandchildren. We both loved them dearly and prized them above everything else in life. He is dearly missed. My children by my current husband even look at him as a sort of second step-father or as Lee says, a rich uncle.
June 28, 2015
I know Ralph from working 4 years at Ungerman-Bass as a product manager. Our product review meetings were always more exciting when Ralph attended. I remember his decision to bring Lotus Notes into the company to leverage communications. I enjoyed his mild manner and to-the-point value-add. He would use the phrase "case in point" often. Thank you Ralph for your leadership.
Bead Strutner
June 25, 2015
It's hard to summarize nearly twenty wonderful years with you, Ralph. We had great times, worked hard, laughed a lot, and caused more than a few memorable ruckuses. You lived your motto: "Nothing in moderation, everything to excess." I loved working side by side with you. You will be remembered by most for your extraordinary vision, work ethic, and friendship. I will remember your sweetness, generosity, love of our dogs, cats and horses, and your adventuresome spirit -- What fun we had! My love to your children and grandchildren. Rest in peace, dear friend.
Kathryn Hermansen (formerly Ungermann)
June 16, 2015
What I admired most about Ralph was that he didn't suffer fools lightly. If you could not hold your weight, you were out. And this made everyone around him STRIVE. When Ralph said the work was good - it really meant the work was good - and it was not because he read some book or went to some HR conference that said that was the way to lead a team. Ralph made me reach high, and then higher still - and I know now - many years later - that was because HE was never satisfied with his own work, and he wanted that same dissatisfaction to propel me forward. It did. And I owe a great deal of what happened to me to his example of what striving is. I feel gratitude for having known him in his prime. And if there is a tragedy - it is the number of people who benefitted for his brilliant mind and the high bar he set and have no idea how that helped them to be better in all that they do. Rebecca Costa
June 11, 2015
So glad to have seen Ralph at our 50th high school reunion. Blessings. Leanne Moffett Thommarson
June 9, 2015
My sincere condoleances to Mr Ungermann's family.
Ralph, thank you for all these great years at UB.
Manuela Divoire
June 9, 2015
I didn't know Ralph well while I worked at U-B, but I did reach out to him when I was embarking on my first start up. He met with me several times and was incredibly gracious, insightful and supportive and also offered to provide a VC reference. This is while he was in the midst of running his own company (FVC).

This pretty much sums up the man he was and the impact he had on so many people. Thanks, Ralph! You will be greatly missed, but not forgotten!
Jerry Hall
June 9, 2015

Thank you for your leadership, for the opportunity you gave me to work for Ungermann-Bass. UB time was a great time for many people in Belgium and around the world.

My condolences go to the Ungerman family.

Bye Ralph, Thank You.
Rita Thijs (Belgium)
June 8, 2015
Many execs could have taken lessons from him on how he related to employees in a casual way, and was sincere about it. Craig Kensek
June 7, 2015
Mr. Ungerman - You changed my life, this is truly a sad day for all. My condolences go to the Ungerman family.
Chuck Marsh
June 6, 2015
My condolences to the family of Mr. Ungermann, a great visionary from an ex-employee of Ungermann-Bass.
Amparo Lago
June 6, 2015
Such sad news, I am so sorry for your loss. I was very lucky to have known Ralph and worked for Ungermann Bass. Great company, great people and some of the best work experience that I ever received. People always say they have never worked anywhere else like UB. I only hope that Ralph knew what a long lasting and far reaching impact he had on so many. He will be missed.
Shannon Tulloss
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences