Ralph Wheat, 91, passed away November 11, 2018, from natural causes in Longmont, Colorado.
Ralph was born December 2, 1926 in Walton, New York, to Irving Hall and Elsie (Bull) Wheat, the second of six boys. Ralph was a resident of Atria Assisted Living in Longmont, Colorado, for four years, after living in Pueblo West, Colorado, and Rocky Ford, Colorado. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Anna, and his three children, Anne (Greg) Wilburn, Roger (Peggy) Wheat, and Holly (Fred). Also surviving are four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Ralph worked on the parent’s home farm, tending the milk cows, chickens, sheep and hogs. He left home at 14 years old and moved in with his uncle and aunt on the farm they managed. He graduated from the Delaware Academy and Central School in June 1944, and was a member of the US Army Air Corp Reserve. He enrolled in Rutgers University, but dropped out of school, after his brother Donald was killed in a farm accident. He received a discharge from the Army Air Corp Reserve in May 1945.
Ralph enlisted in the army in November 1945, with boot camp in Aniston, Alabama. After completing basic training, he was assigned to IBM training in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1946, he transferred to Fort Richardson, Anchorage, Alaska, to work with early computers and punch cards. In addition to computer work, Ralph enjoyed going fishing and playing cards. Ralph remained at Fort Richardson until late June 1947 when he flew to Great Falls, Montana, where he was mustered out of the service. Ralph worked on the construction of the New York City Dam near Downsville, New York. After the dam was built, he worked for Asplundh tree service as a climber/trimmer.
After the tree trimming job, Ralph enlisted in the US Air Force, with basic training in San Antonio, Texas. He was transferred to Oberammergau, West Germany, for immersion classes in Russian. Ralph moved to Darmstadt after completing the coursework to eavesdrop and write down Russian conversations. He wrote the work was very stressful, with 21 days on out of 23 days, working rotating shifts. Ralph left West Germany for the States, and was discharged for good November 1953.
After leaving the US Air force, Ralph moved to North Park, Colorado, and worked at the Coyte Ranch near Colemont, Colorado. Ralph also worked at ranches in Kremmling, Colorado, where a local veterinarian induced him to try his hand at Colorado A&M in agribusiness. Ralph enrolled in 1955, and held summer jobs near Great Falls, Montana, to pay for school. Ralph met Anna Lou Salladay in May 1956, and married Anna Lou in September 1956, and graduated from Colorado State University in 1958, with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics – Agricultural Business.
Ralph worked for the USDA – Farmers Home Administration as a loan officer for nearly 25 years, working throughout Colorado, from Durango to Fort Morgan to Steamboat Springs and settling in Rocky Ford Colorado. After retirement, he worked for a building contractor and the City of Aurora re-establishing native grasses on lands previously irrigated by the Rocky Ford Canal. He enjoyed working with his hands, building fences and woodworking. Ralph and Anna enjoyed many years of RV travel in their retirement, visiting the lower 48 states and Alaska, and the western provinces of Canada. One of our favorite memories is the smile on his face leaving on a salmon fishing trip.
Ralph is survived by his brothers Rev. George (Fran) Wheat and Rev. Gerald (Millie) Wheat, and was preceded in death by his parents and brothers Donald, Carlton, and Bruce Wheat. His remains will be scattered per his final wishes. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in his name to the First United Methodist Church – Pueblo, 301 West 11th Street, Pueblo, CO, 81003.