Saturday, October 22, 2016
1:00 PM to 2:00 PM EDT
Life Story Funeral Homes - Rupert, Durham, Marshall & Gren
409 South Main Street
Vicksburg, MI 49097
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Ralph Strong was a caring man who modeled a lifetime of hard work and sincere compassion for others. He was a loving and supportive father, wonderful grandfather and a cherished friend to many. He loved to show his generous side for special birthdays and holidays and would do anything for anyone in need. Ralph enjoyed many years of being a dad, but nothing brought him greater joy than his four growing grandchildren; Hunter, Kyle, Logan, and Blake. Sadly, he was taken too soon and his kindness and friendship will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him.
The 1950’s were known as the decade of the baby boomer and the modern American family. Exciting times indeed with the many talents of professional baseball player, Mickey Mantle, the rock music icon, Elvis Presley and movie heartthrob, James Dean. Television was growing in its popularity and families joined together to catch the latest westerns such as Gunsmoke or anything featuring Lucille Ball. Proud parents Eldon and Grace (Reiter) Strong welcomed home their newborn son, Ralph born on March 20, 1951 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He was a wonderful addition to their growing family.
Growing up, Ralph attended local schools and graduated with the Class of 1970 from Climax-Scotts High School. As a teen, Ralph stepped in to tend to the family farm when his father took sick. Working on the farm was the beginning of a lifelong journey of balancing hard physical labor with the simple joys of day to day living. Due to the demands of the family farm, he wasn’t involved much in sports in school and instead enjoyed building relationships with people and nature. After high school he began working at a progressing food service company, Stewart-Sutherland Inc. in Vicksburg. He worked his way into a leadership role serving as foreman for forty six successful years before he retired. Stewart-Sutherland wasn’t only responsible for providing Ralph with the necessary means to earning a living, it was also the meeting place of he and his former wife, Theresa Newton who was also employed there. The two of them hit it off and dated for six months prior to joining in marriage on October 9, 1971. During their twenty two years together they raised two wonderful sons; Scott and Tony.
Although Ralph was a simple man, he had many special interests. When he wasn’t busy working, he enjoyed many Saturdays attending local auctions with his good buddy, Dave. He could also be found tinkering with farm equipment. He enjoyed many early morning drives home from work catching the sun rising in the sky. He also savored his daily coffee, going to grab breakfast and doing his best to stay awake throughout the day until he returned back to work in the evenings. Ralph loved to drive out to the charming Lake Michigan beach town of South Haven where he would spend time watching the boats cruise in and out of the channel. The beautiful season of fall was Ralph’s favorite time of year when the trees were in all of their splendor. He treasured many trips to spend time in Michigan’s beautiful northern region and enjoy the colors. These simple joys reveal Ralph’s love of life and nature. A memorable trip out to California in his younger years, had him eagerly planning to travel as soon as he retired. In particular, he was interested in a future trip to Maine before he was diagnosed with cancer just two weeks after his retirement. Sadly, Ralph passed away on Tuesday, October 11th, 2016 and leaves behind a beautiful example of helping others, giving selflessly and loving unconditionally. His wonderful collection of memories will forever be remembered in the hearts of his special family and friends.
Ralph M. Strong, of Vicksburg passed away at the age of 65. He is survived by his two sons: Scott Strong, of Kalamazoo; Tony (Nancy) Strong, of Vicksburg; four grandchildren: Hunter, Kyle, Logan, and Blake; one brother: Jim (Marie) Strong, of Kalamazoo. He is preceded in death by his parents: Eldon and Grace Strong; Ruby Ivens; EJ Strong and Raymond Ivens. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, October 22, 2016 at 2pm at Life Story Funeral Home, 409 S. Main, Vicksburg (269-649-1697). The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service at the funeral home. Please visit Ralph’s webpage at www.lifestorynet.com where you can sign his guestbook, share a memory and/or photo. Those who wish, may make contributions to the West Michigan Cancer Center.