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Dr. James Ralph
Douglass Funeral Home
87 North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA
AMHERST – surrounded by friends and family, Dr. James Ralph-a long-time resident of Amherst--died peacefully Dece. 21, 2017, at Cooley-Dickinson Hospital in Northampton.  He was 84 years old.

Dr. Ralph was born in Lowell on March 23, 1933, to Richard and Alice [Walwood] Ralph. His family then moved to Bennington, Vermont, where he was raised with two sisters (Claire and Brenda) and two brothers (Richard and David).   For his entire life, he enjoyed the outdoors, especially the backcountry in Vermont and the rest of New England.

In 1950, he matriculated at Middlebury College, where he joined the Chi Psi fraternity.  After graduating in 1954, he entered Yale Medical School.  He received his M.D. in 1959.  He then held an internship and residency at Akron General Hospital in Ohio.  From 1961 to 1963, he was stationed at Shaw Air Force base in Sumter, South Carolina, as a captain in the United States Air Force.

Dr. Ralph moved with his growing family-he had married Edith Aeschliman in 1958- to the Pioneer Valley in 1963.  He was a physician at the University of Massachusetts Health Services until his retirement in 1997.   He served as assistant medical director of the health services for twenty-six years.   In 1991, he was the recipient of a Chancellor's Citation Award for meritorious service to the University of Massachusetts.  For many years he was a member of the executive board of the Massachusetts Medical Society.

Sports were always an important part of his life.  He played on a number of varsity teams for Bennington High School.  Despite suffering injuries, he received accolades for his performance in football during his senior year.  Later, he became a physician for many of the athletic teams at the University of Massachusetts, including the men's and women's basketball squads and the football team.  In 2000, he was inducted into the UMass Athletic Hall of Fame.

Nothing was more important to him than his family.   He loved taking family vacations, especially camping trips  (which included a lot of fishing) across the country and Canada.

Dr. Ralph was known for his caring nature, for his generosity with his time and talent, for his warm sense of humor, for his steadiness in times of stress, and for always putting people first.

He leaves behind his beloved wife of 59 years, Edith, and four sons and their families (and seven grandchildren):  Jim Jr. and Ophelia Eglene (Owen and Chloe) of Weybridge, Vermont, Lee and Stacy (Julia, Olivia, and Spencer) of San Diego, California, Jon and Patricia Gibson (Jessie and Jack) of Manhattan Beach, California, David and Marsha of St. Augustine, Florida.   He will be lovingly remembered by his sister Brenda and her husband Dr. Abraham Madkour of Manchester Center, Vermont, his brother David W. Ralph of Hercules, California; many nieces and nephews and extended family living throughout the country and the world.

The Ralph family wishes to extend a special thank you to the intensive care unit at Cooley-Dickinson Hospital, the Visiting Nurse Assocaition staff, and especially Dr. Ralph's caretakers over the past year-Robin Alix, Michael Buckowski, and David Brown,

A funeral mass, which will be celebrated by Father John Smegal, will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, January 13th, at St. Brigid's Church in Amherst (Dr. Ralph was a devout, lifelong Catholic), with a burial following at Wildwood Cemetery.  

Arrangements are under the care of the Douglass Funeral Services, 87 N. Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA.  A reception, a celebration of his life, will follow at the Marriott Center on the 11th floor of University of Massachusetts Campus Center in Amherst. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Brigid's Parish, 142 N. Pleasant Street, P.O. Box 424, Amherst, MA 01004, and the University of Massachusetts Athletic Department. 200 Commonwealth Avenue, Amherst, MA 01003.

Memorial register at

Published by Daily Hampshire Gazette on Jan. 3, 2018.
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Funeral services provided by:
Douglass Funeral Home
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6 Entries
My deepest condolences to your family. I will always remember his great kindness and energetic spirit. Greta Motts Birkby
January 30, 2018
I am so sorry for your loss. Very sad to lose someone who was a good man, father, husband, grandfather, colleague and in my case, neighbor. Sincere and heartfelt condolences to all the Ralph boys and Mrs. Ralph. Love, Suzy Stein
Suzy Stein
January 15, 2018
I worked with Dr. Ralph through his work at the Massachusetts Medical Society. He will be missed, he was a very kind and gentle soul. My thoughts and prayers for your family.
Michele Jussaume
January 8, 2018
I have many happy memories of times spent with Jim and Edie before they were marrried and more recently on their visits to Pemaquid Beach, Maine. Jim kept busy mowing my lawn, removing a fish hook from my neighbor's eye brow and also fishing. My
thoughts and prayers will continue to be with Edie and her family. Fondly, Pinky
January 5, 2018
It was my great pleasure and good fortune that my season ice hockey tickets were next to Dr. Ralph and Edith for some years in section G10. As an alumn, we saw the program enter Hockey East and had many great conversations about UMass, old time hockey, sports and life in general. I had great respect for his warm and gentle manner, wisdom and sense of humor. He is an inspiration to us all.
My thoughts and prayers are with Edith and Family. Sincerely, Marty Stevens
Marty Stevens
January 4, 2018
My sincere condolences to the family for your loss may the God of all comfort sustain you in your time of need.
January 3, 2018
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