Ralph M. Truly died peacefully on February 22, 2014, in Eagle Lake, Texas, at the age of 93 years. Ralph led an interesting and varied life, both professionally and personally, cramming a lot of living into his 93 years. He was born and grew up in Hubbard, Texas, as one of the five children of John and Sally Truly. He left for Lubbock, Texas the next fall, to attend Texas Tech University. However, World War II intervened. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in January, 1941. His air corps training was in South Carolina and Puerto Rico. While training in Puerto Rico, he met the one and only love of his life, Estrella Santiago, whom he married in 1943. Following his training, Ralph became a radio operator and waist gunner in the B25J Bomber, and was assigned to the 310 Bombardment Group, 380 Bombardment Squadron. He and his crew departed Puerto Rico with sealed orders, which could not be opened until they were in flight. Upon opening the orders the pilot, who was 24 years of age and the oldest one in the crew, announced that they were heading to Tripoli, a place none of them had ever heard of. During his military career, he flew 76 bombing missions. On his 14th mission, to bomb a road bridge in Pozzolo, Italy, he described in his journal that they encountered heavy and accurate flack from two locations; that two big pieces came through his radio compartment, and that one piece hit the earpiece of his flack helmet, denting it in, cut a big slit in it, and burst his headsets. He said that but for the flack helmet, the shrapnel would have "gone in one ear and out the other ear." Following his discharge from the military, Ralph became an air traffic controller with the FAA, from which he retired in 1972. While with the FAA, he worked in many places, including the Texas locations of Lubbock, Brownsville, Midland, Waco and Houston, and worked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as well. While with the FAA in Midland, the family bought a home at 1412 West Ohio Street, a house previously owned by President George H. W. Bush. In recent years, that home has been dedicated as a museum honoring President George W. Bush, and Ralph and his family were invited to attend, and attended, the dedication of the museum. After retirement from the FAA, Ralph became a real estate broker. He dealt in real estate in the Houston area, until following his daughter, Sandy and her husband, Don, to Eagle Lake in 1975. He went to work for Ed Hanly Real Estate, and later bought the business from Mrs. Hanly following Ed Hanly's death. The business subsequently became known as Truly Properties, and continued in business for more than 30 years. Ralph has been actively involved in civic service throughout his life. While in Midland, Ralph and Estrella were both active in the Midland Community Theater. Both were always involved in the Methodist Church, and served on various boards and committees. In Eagle Lake, Ralph was a longtime member of the Eagle Lake Noon Lions Club and served two terms on the Eagle Lake City Council. He was also on the initial Boards of Directors of both the Colorado County Fair Association and the Colorado County Central Appraisal District. Those who have known Ralph through the years know him to be a quiet and modest man, never wanting to call attention to himself. However, behind the scenes, he did what he could to help those who needed help. Although of moderate means, Ralph not only took good care of his family, but helped several young people from Eagle Lake and Rice High School further their educations and other endeavors, which they might not have been able to do without Ralph's help. Even though he was a quiet man, Ralph also had his "wild side." As a young man- and as an older man as well- he loved motorcycles. During his younger years, he took motorcycle trips with his sisters and brothers-in-law and, as he aged, would probably have continued to do so, but for the intervention of his children. At age 86, he went on a bicycle trip in New Hampshire with his daughter Vicki and her biking group. Then, for two summers shortly before he turned 80, he biked with Vicki and her friends over substantial portions of the Natchez Trace in Mississippi. Perhaps the last exhibition of his "wild side" was when, at age 85, he got his first and last tattoo while visiting his son in Los Angeles. Ralph was preceded in death by his wife, Estrella Santiago Truly; his parents, John and Sally Truly; his brother, Lanham Truly and wife, Lola; sister, Frances Hillin; sister, Monette Tubbs and husband, C. H.; and sister, Helen Poff and husband, Johnny; by his grandson, Taylor Copeland; by his mother-in-law, Maria Rodriguez Santiago; and by his sister-in-law, Carmen Rentas and her husband. He is survived by his children, Sandra L. Bendy and husband, Don; Ronald E. Truly and wife, Leslie; Vicki M. Copeland; and Ralph David Truly; grandson Kevin Bendy, wife Gretchen, and children Avery and Blake; grandson Keith Bendy, wife Cheryl, and children Charlotte and Alec; grandson Lucas Copeland; and grandson Jonathan Truly. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews in Texas, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere. Services were held at United Methodist Church in Eagle Lake, Texas on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. and a visitation was held Monday from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Eagle Lake Funeral Home. Burial was at Lakeside Cemetery following the service. Pallbearers were Kevin Bendy, Keith Bendy, Lucas Copeland, Jennifer Hassin, Bobby Hillin, Jr. and Larry Dulany. Honorary Pallbearers were Frank Higgins, Willie Cleveland, Vic Scott, Bill and Erlene Jones, Glenda Blair, Sharon Marsalia, Mary Helen Vasquez, John and Jeanne Young, Beth Waddell, Doug and Janie Schwemm, The Coffee Group, Veranda House Staff, and Amazing Grace Hospice. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to The Mission Continues, 1141 South 7th St., St. Louis, Missouri 63104 or Wounded Warrior Project, 12672 Silicon Dr., Suite 105, San Antonio, Texas or United Methodist Church P.O. Box 695, Eagle Lake, Texas. Ralph was a friend to all. He will be long remembered and cherished by those he has left behind.
Published by Midland Reporter-Telegram on Mar. 27, 2014.