Ralph W. Dagenais
Ralph Waldo Dagenais was born January 10, 1923, in Atchison, Kansas, son of Francis “Frank” Jerome Dagenais and Lydia Florence Keck Dagenais. His first and middle names, it is told, were given to him by his mother out of her fondness for the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. He grew up in Atchison during the Depression and helped the family make ends meet with a newspaper route and working in his father’s carpentry and construction business.
After Atchison High he attended the University of Kansas with support from the ROTC and entered the Army Air Corps in 1944 at the rank of First Lieutenant. During the war he served as a pilot and flight instructor, and was stationed in Hawaii. After the war he earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado in Boulder and went on to work for Caterpillar in Peoria, Illinois and for the Coleman Co. and Beech Aircraft Co. in Wichita. He spent the majority of his career at Beech, where he led a pioneer team in the use of computers in aircraft design and flight simulation.
He was a dedicated member of Woodland United Methodist Church and, in later years, participated in the after-school tutoring program for students sponsored by that church. He also volunteered in the HOOP (Helping Other Older People) program.
He had a gift for working with wood and with mechanical things and one of his last wishes from the hospital was that he would soon be able to get out and go to the hardware store, his favorite hang-out. His second favorite place was the garage where he kept his treasured Shopsmith woodworking machine. Among his projects most beloved and enjoyed by his family was a harpsichord he built from a kit.
He had a lifetime love of the scouting movement. He was a proud Eagle Scout and later Scoutmaster of the Troop at Woodland. He was also a member of the Wichita Scandinavian Society and served for many years as treasurer of the Kansas Authors Club.
People admired him for his kindness and generosity as well as for his honesty and humility. He was a devoted husband to his wife Julia Ann Casad Dagenais. They were married for 60 years, until Mrs. Dagenais passed away in 2007. He was also a devoted father to his three children John (Los Angeles, CA), Janet Dagenais (Mike) Brown (Wichita) and Jane (Syracuse, NY). He has four grandchildren: Christopher (Susie) (Cottage Grove, MN); Sarah Floyd (Richmond, VT), Scott Floyd (Syracuse, NY), and Camille Dagenais (Los Angeles, CA). He also has two great grandchildren: Henry and Isaac Brown.
Memorials: Woodland United Methodist Church and Special Olympics (1133 19th Street NW, 12th Floor, Washington, DC 20036-3604)
Service: Monday, August 12 at 11:00 am at Woodland United Methodist Church, 1100 W. 15th St. N., Wichita, KS, 67203Read More