Ralph's life began July 31, 1929, in Buchanan. Ralph grew up in Buchanan where he graduated high school. After high school, Ralph proudly served in the U.S. Navy where he was an aviation machinist. After the service, Ralph returned home and went to work at Whirlpool Corp.
Ralph and his wife, Doris, first made their home in Benton Harbor until finding their forever home in Watervliet. Ralph was an active member of the Watervliet community volunteering for the Watervliet Fire Department for more than 30 years. While a member of the fire department, Ralph served as assistant chief of ambulance and he was the Chaplin for many years.
Another place you could find Ralph giving back was his church, Apostolic Tabernacle Church in Benton Harbor. Ralph helped build the church and served as a board member, deacon, superintendent of the Sunday school, as well as a Sunday school teacher. When Ralph wasn't serving his community, you could find him building bird houses, raising chickens, camping or fishing.
Above everything, Ralph loved his family which includes a daughter, Shelia Hayhurst; four grandchildren: Jeremy Mansfield, Faith Gregg, Sarah Dahlke and Levi Thurston; numerous great-grandchildren; a brother, Carl Thurston; and several nieces and nephews.
He is preceded in death by his wife, Doris (Wagner) Thurston; a son, Ralph Thurston; and numerous siblings.
Ralph died Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, at home surrounded by his loving family. His life will be celebrated at noon on Saturday, Dec. 4, with visitation prior at 11 a.m. at Apostolic Tabernacle Church in Benton Harbor. Burial will follow privately in Fairview Memorial Cemetery in Watervliet.
Memorials may be made to Apostolic Tabernacle Church or Truth Church Building Fund.
You are invited to leave a message of comfort for Ralph's family at hutchinsfuneral.com.
Ralph's greatest gift was his love for his family.