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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Ralph E. Parker

Issue Date: July 15, 2020

Ralph E. Parker, 95, of Crivitz, Wisconsin, went to be with the Lord on July 9, 2020, at the home of his daughter in Crivitz surrounded by family and friends.

He was born March 31, 1925, in Los Angeles, California, the son of the late Ralph and Wilma Axtel Parker. On December 29, 1947, he married Emma Katherine Witten, whom he lovingly called Kay. She preceded him in death in 2013.

Ralph lost his beloved mother at age 11. Within a few years, he and his father moved from California back to his father's hometown in Missouri. His father married Florence Evans Parker and took up farming again. Ralph proudly entered the United States Navy in 1944, after requesting a termination of the automatic exclusion he'd received for working on his father's farm. He was assigned to repair anti-aircraft and deck guns and ultimately served as a gunnery instructor.

Upon discharge at the rank of gunnery mate second class, he assisted on the farm while attending Trenton (Missouri) Junior College. Thanks to the G.I. Bill, he continued his education at the University of Missouri. After graduating with a degree in business administration in 1950 he began a management career with J.C. Penney. He served various stores in Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska over the next 15 years.

He left Penneys in 1965 to purchase a franchise for the Skogmos Department Store chain in Onawa, Iowa which he owned for 5 years. The advent of discount stores such as Kmart led to the downfall of many small businesses such as this.

Ralph moved on to real estate, insurance, and banking beginning with the Sloan (Iowa) State Bank. He retired after 16 years as vice president of the Onawa (Iowa) State Bank. Upon retirement, he and Kay moved to Crivitz, Wisconsin to be near many of their grandchildren.

Ralph always endeavored to return something to each community in which he lived through volunteer work and participation in service-oriented organizations. He was involved in a leadership capacity in the Chamber of Commerce in every community in which he worked. Service organizations he served included Kiwanis and Lions Clubs, Masonic Lodge, Habitat for Humanity, Community Chest, sheltered workshop, Crivitz Food Pantry, Crime Stoppers and he was a volunteer worker at PET assembling self-propelled carts for disabled persons.

He was equally active and committed in each Church to which he belonged. In addition to these many activities, he was a school board member in Onawa, IA; on the Real Estate Board of Appeals in Iowa; a founding member of and volunteer for the Town of Stephenson (WI) recycling center; on the Town hall building committee also in Stephenson and a Supervisor for the 1990 U.S. Census.

His service to others and commitment to community continued into his 93rd year. He liked to think that each place he lived might be just a little bit better for his having been there.

He was equally devoted as a husband, father, and grandfather, quietly sharing his strength, talents, and wisdom with the next generations. His young family took annual camping trips introducing the children to the wonders of this country.

He braved camping again when near 90 to share time with his extended family. After their children were grown, he and Kay enjoyed traveling to different parts of the world, often with friends. He loved reading to and playing games with his grandchildren. He spent long hours gardening and working in his yard. Golf became a passion after retirement resulting in his setting a goal in his late 80's to golf a score equal to his age, which he achieved.

In addition to his wife, Ralph was preceded in death by their son, Alan (Cynthia); his brother, William and sister Elizabeth (Ed) Chase.

He is survived by two daughters, Pam (Jim) Kanikula of Crivitz, WI and Nancy Konegni of Greenfield, WI; son-in-law, Kim Konegni of West Allis, WI; grandchildren, Molly (Michael) Arndt of Waukesha, WI, Joshua Konegni (Ricardo Ardila) of Palmdale, CA, Amanda (Joe) Volpentesta of Greenfield, WI, Jon (Brynn) Kanikula of Eagle WI, Allison Parker (Jeff Roelke) of Eagle, ID, Brad Parker and Eric Parker of Jackson, WY; seven great-grandchildren; one great-great-granddaughter; sisters-in-law, Neta Witten and Marylin Hoffman of Columbia, MO and a niece, Virginia Washburn of West Lafayette, IN. He will be sorely missed by them all.

Visitation will take place at Rhodes Charapata Funeral Home in Crivitz, Wisconsin on Wednesday July 29 at 9:00 a.m. with a Masonic Service to follow at 10 a.m. The funeral will be held at Faith Presbyterian Church at 11:00 a.m. with internment and Military Honors immediately following at the Crivitz Cemetery. Condolences may be sent in care of Pam Kanikula, W9861 Kanikula Lane, Crivitz, WI 54114.


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