Ralph Anderson died on February 3, 2013 at the age of 69.
He was born on March 25, 1943, in Stephenson, Mi., the son of Ruthford and Carmen Anderson. Ralph grew up in Milwaukee, Wi., and various cities throughout Michigan and was a proud “Yooper”.
Ralph was predeceased by his parents and brother, Randolph Anderson.
He is survived by his wife Susan Anderson of Signal Mountain; his daughter, Keri Varner, her husband, Rob, and their daughters Flynn and Kate of Signal Mountain; his daughter, Meghan Poulos, her husband Seth of Austin, Tx.; his daughter, Rebecca Lief, her husband, Joshua and their daughter, Leah of Jacksonville, Fla.; his sister, Renee Adams and nephew, Brian Anderson, both of Milwaukee, Wi., and many aunts, uncles and cousins. In addition to his family, Ralph leaves behind a multitude of friends, students, and memories for the people whose lives he touched.
Ralph served in the United States Navy from 1961 to 1965. Following military service, he went to college, ultimately receiving a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His life was dedicated to learning, teaching and helping those in need. Ralph worked for nearly a decade in non-profit administration and retired in 2012 after 30 years as a professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. During his tenure at the university he received the first ever Patricia Draper Obear Distinguished Professorship and was recognized as a UTC Walker Center Teaching and Technology Fellow.
Ralph was passionate about improving his community, devoting decades to teaching students who would go on to lead many of Chattanooga’s non-profit organizations. He was instrumental in establishing St. Matthew’s Emergency Shelter and served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations. In 2007, he was named Chattanooga Area United Way Volunteer of the Year.
While Ralph bestowed much of his love and enthusiasm on friends and students, he was above all a loving son, brother, husband, father and grandfather. He was insatiably curious and loved a new challenge, especially those found outdoors, including whitewater paddling and cycling. He relished the hours spent on rivers and creeks with his AARP (Association of Arthritic River Paddlers) family where he was known for his sharp tongue, and as a C1 paddler, his playful disdain for kayakers. He enjoyed the theater, performing in Signal Mountain Playhouse, Chattanooga Theater Center and Oak Street Playhouse productions and in recent years he began drawing and painting. He was our renaissance man. When faced with cancer, Ralph did what came naturally, learning all he could about this unsolicited challenge and determining how to outwit it. In the end, it claimed his life, but his humility, compassion and humor remained strong.
A special thanks to Carol Teasley and Pat Flowers of Hospice of Chattanooga for their compassionate care, to the AARP River Runners for their unwavering friendship and to doctors Joseph Smith of Vanderbilt Medical Center and Ted Arrowsmith of Chattanooga Oncology and Hematology who helped make the last five years possible.
Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 10 a.m. at Mizpah Congregation, 923 McCallie Ave. Burial will follow in Mizpah Congregation Cemetery with Military honors.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to the North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy, P.O. Box 358, Hixson, Tn. 37343.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Advantage Funeral Cremation Services Franklin Strickland Pinkard Bryan Smith Funeral Directors, 1724 McCallie Ave., 423 265-4414.