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RALPH, Thomas (Monsignor). (New Hampton, IA, June 4, 1926--Dubuque, IA, July 29, 2013) The son of Thomas "Glenn" and Mary "Eileen" (Smith) Ralph, Thomas moved with his family in 1928 to Mason City where the Dubuque SISTERS OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY (PBVM) schooled him at St. Joseph grade and high school.
Following graduation from high school in May, he was drafted into the U.S. Army on Aug. 15, 1944. He was assigned to infantry training at Fort Hood, Texas. The training, as an anti-tank gunner, was cut short by the "Battle of the Bulge," and on Christmas 1944, the entire regiment was shipped to Europe aboard the liner Queen Elizabeth, which had been converted to a troop ship and carried 10,000 service men and women.
The regiment ended up in Belgium and on to Aachen, Germany, where it was assigned to the 9th Infantry Division. About two hours before the regiment was to be deployed to the front lines, he was called out by name to the G-1 (personnel) section of the Rear Division Headquarters, where he was asked to take a typing test.
He was told to get his equipment and return to the office. Not knowing where he was going, he had been assigned to the G-4 section of the Forward 9th Division Headquarters which was in charge of supply and traffic control for the division. At war's end, having crossed the Rhine River at Remagen, two days before the bridge collapsed, killing over 200, the division was in Kothen, Germany. All American forces were deployed to Bavaria, Southern Germany to the American Zone of Occupation: first to the town of Ingolstadt, then Wasserburg, and finally to Augsburg.
He was rotated to Fort Sheridan, Illinois and discharged in June 1946 with the rank of master sergeant. He attributed this part of his life to Divine Providence, the prayers of his parents, and Sister Mary Laurayne Mahoney, PBVM, for her typing class at St. Joseph High School, Mason City.
Msgr. Ralph graduated from LORAS COLLEGE and Catholic University summer sessions, both in Dubuque, in English Literature. He completed theological studies at MOUNT SAINT BERNARD SEMINARY and was ordained to the priesthood on February 4, 1956, at ST. RAPHAEL'S CATHEDRAL by Archbishop Leo BINZ.
He served as associate pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Cedar Rapids, 1956-57. He was appointed associate editor of WITNESS (THE) in 1957, where he remained until his retirement in 2002. He was in residence at St. Patrick Parish in Dubuque, where he celebrated daily Mass for the Sisters of Charity, BVM, and Sunday Masses at St. Patrick Church until 1967 when he was appointed chaplain at the former ST. ANTHONY'S HOME FOR THE AGED, then on the Mercy Medical Center campus, and at MERCY MEDICAL CENTER, both in Dubuque.
In 1969 he became resident pastor of St. Theresa Parish, LaMotte and administrator to Assumption Parish (Sylvia), Zwingle, where he remained for twenty years. He was named prelate of honor (monsignor) in 1987; the parishioners gave him a gold watch.
Msgr. Ralph was appointed pastor of St. Lawrence Parish, Otter Creek, in 1988, where he remained until retirement in 2002. With the clustering of five parishes in 1999, he was named sacramental priest to the parishes in Andrew, LaMotte, Otter Creek, St. Theresa and Assumption Sylvia until retirement.
He became editor of The Witness in 1980 on the death of the Rev. Gerald Shekleton. He remained editor until his retirement in 2002, having been the only editor of the last three not to die on the job. Among other things, he was also known for his gourmet cooking and hosting Sunday evening dinners for other clergy even after retirement.
Obituaries. Dubuque Today.com Online: http://www.dubuquetoday.com/obituaries.cfm