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Ralph P. Gates Jr.

1925 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Ralph P. Gates, Jr.

Ralph Pillsbury Gates Jr. passed away on Monday May 7, 2018 at Mt. Olympus Rehabilitation Center in Salt Lake City, Utah after a battle with cancer. His son Nathan and dear friend Frances Alexander were with him when he passed peacefully. Ralph willed his body to the University of Utah. His ashes will later be interred in Nashville, TN.

Born January 24, 1925 in Chicago Illinois, Ralph was preceded in death by his brothers Daniel and Larry. Ralph is survived by his youngest brother Carl, and four children from his marriage to Thaniel Dozier Armistead: Ralph Pillsbury Gates, III (Randy), Elbert Armistead Gates, Nathan Colyar Gates and Thaniel Leigh Gates (Leigh).

Ralph graduated from Vanderbilt University with a degree in engineering and after receiving a Master's degree in Chemical Engineering from M.I.T. after the war, went to work for Victor Chemical in Nashville and later Stauffer Chemical in Westport, Connecticut. After beginning their family in the Chicago area, Ralph and Thaniel moved to Riverside Connecticut where they raised their four children. The family enjoyed sailing and tennis as members of the Riverside Yacht Club, camping and hiking with the Appalachian Mountain Club, and canoe trips throughout Maine. Ralph particularly enjoyed skiing with family and friends virtually every winter weekend for years in nearby Vermont.

Moving to Park City, Utah in 1990 with who was to become his long-time partner, Frances (Fran) Kennedy, Ralph fell in love with all things Utah, and continued his passions for camping, fly-fishing, hiking, golf and skiing. Ralph was a particularly avid skier, first skiing Alta in the 1950's and later making his last trip with friends to the top of Alta in 2015 at the age of 90. His good friend Lyn told Ralph he'd never seen him ski so well as he did those last days, to which Ralph responded, "It's downhill. It's easier than walking".

Ralph was proud of his participation in the Manhattan Project and his contributions as a young man to that top-secret effort building the atomic bomb that finally ended the war in the Pacific. He tried to enlist in the Army (Ralph Sr. was an Army man) on his 18th birthday but was told to stay in school until they contacted him, which he did, later being sent to Los Alamos, NM to be part of the team that developed the bomb that helped bring an early end to WWII. In his later years Ralph would speak to groups all over the country, young and old alike, of his WWII experiences. A recording of one such event can be found on The Atomic Heritage Foundation website.

Ralph greatly enjoyed attending and singing in the choir at Park City Community Church. Ralph sang early on as part of a Barbershop Quartet in Connecticut and continued right up until three days before he passed when he quietly sang a touching military ballad from his bed for a group of friends and fellow Vets at Mt Olympus. Among other activities, Ralph was an active member of the local Park City Senior Center, the local ROMEO group (Retired Old Men Eating Out) and the Friday morning prayer group at the local Christian Center. He was honored to be welcomed as a good friend and honorary member of the Captain's Club in Salt Lake City as well. Ralph enjoyed his business, first recording interviews of WWII Vets for their families to remember them by, and later recording Life Stories for many in Park City. As he put it describing his "Voices of Park City" project, these are the people from all walks of life and many places around the world who moved here for a variety of reasons and have built and made this wonderful town what it is today. Ralph absolutely loved Park City and its people. A collection of these recorded life stories is anticipated to be made available at the Park City Library. Ralph's last project, finished just this past fall, was a recording of him singing old time favorite songs from as far back as the Civil War; this can be found via search on Youtube under "Ralph and Ethels Music Project". Ralph had many good friends in the Park City area, as well as elsewhere in Utah and around the country and world, and he will be missed dearly.

For those who wish to attend, you are invited to ""A Celebration of Life"" service in honor of Ralph, to be held at Park City Community Church on Bear Hollow Drive, Saturday June 2nd beginning at 10 am, a reception with refreshments to follow.
Published in The Park Record from May 12 to May 19, 2018
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