Ralph W. Patterson, of Oroville, died Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. As was his wish, he was at home, with his family by his side.
Ralph was born to James and Williametta Patterson in Seattle on Nov. 9, 1927. He was one of nine children in the family, and learned early the value of working together for the good of all. His first job, working alongside his brothers, was to mow, rake and weed lawns on Queen Anne Hill. For their efforts, they received 50 cents per lawn. Other jobs during his youth included a large paper route for the Seattle PI, cleaning houses and yards for realtors, and picking strawberries in Marysville.
After three brothers were called into the service during the war, Ralph began working full time in Seattle area restaurants. His earnings from these jobs were given to his mother in order to help support the family.
In 1946, Ralph joined the Merchant Marines, serving for four years. His cooking skills were honed during this time, and he kept the crew onboard well fed. While serving in the Merchant Marines, Ralph developed his love for the lands and people of Alaska, particularly Little Diomede Island. After completing his service with the Merchant Marines, Ralph was drafted into the Army. He served, primarily in Korea, for two years. As was common throughout his life, those around Ralph ate well. He ran an efficient mess hall, providing basic meals as well as baked treats whenever possible.
Following his discharge from the Army, Ralph moved to Eastern Washington in 1953. He settled in the Great Basin and learned farming from Paul and Ruth Holman. They grew to become like second parents to him. He purchased 160 acres of land to farm, but was unable to secure financing to put in irrigation. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Ralph moved to Wenatchee, and worked at Peter Rabbit Grocery Stores. Attending a political rally with friends one evening in 1956, he met the love of his life, Elvie.
Ralph and Elvie were married Sept. 29, 1957, in Wenatchee. He often said that marrying Elvie was the best thing he ever did, stating that there could be no better partnership than the one they shared. In 1959, Ralph and Elvie settled in Oroville. Together, they built the A&W Drive-In and operated it together for over 30 years.
Never one to shy away from challenge, they set their opening date on May Day. Health issues forced the closure of the A&W in 1990. However, Ralph didn’t have much opportunity to slow down in retirement.
Throughout the years, Ralph served his community in many ways. He volunteered with the Civil Service for 12 years. He also worked with the TV Association for 12 years. He offered his time and talents to young and old alike, volunteering with Shiba for 14 years and tutoring with HOSTS for more than 10 years.
He held various service positions in his church through the years, and chaperoned countless cheer squads as they travelled the region for sports tournaments.
Thanks to Elvie’s love of travel, Ralph spent much time during his retirement traveling the globe. Together, Ralph and Elvie visited Russia (twice), Spain, Italy, Fiji, Australia, England, France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rico, the Panama Canal, and more. They also enjoyed several trips to Alaska, including a wonderful cruise to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Closer to home, they frequently traveled to Oregon and the New England region, visiting family and friends.
Ralph’s greatest legacy may be that of hospitality. No matter who dropped by at dinner time, or what was being served, there was always room at the table. After dinner was complete, the cribbage board was sure to come out for a game or two. He could most often be found in his kitchen, baking up new batches of scones, cookies, and candies to share. His brandied Christmas cake was delivered to friends near and far each year, along with assortments of other sweet treats. And of course, he enjoyed the annual tradition of making spaghetti sauce for the United Methodist Church Christmas Bazaar.
Ralph is survived by his son, Kevin (Michelle) of West Linn, Ore.; daughter, Lea Ann (Richard) Hairston of Oroville; grandchildren, Christian, Elizabeth, Michelle, and Sarah; and great-grandson, Masen. He is also survived by one brother, Bob (Dee) Patterson of Lovelock, Nev.; and four sisters, Marie Thompson of Franklin, Virg., Marion Smith of Quilcene, Wash., Doris Long of Everett, Wash., and Marjorie Hargreaves of Bellevue, Wash.
Ralph was preceded in death by his wife, Elvie Patterson; parents, James and Williametta Patterson; and brothers, James E. “Bud” Patterson, Frank Patterson, and Jack Patterson.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, at The Oroville United Methodist Church, 908 Fir Street, Oroville, Wash. 98844. Memorials are suggested to the United Methodist Church, American Cancer Society, The Salvation Army, Amedysis Hospice of Omak, or a charity of your choosing.
“Don’t take any wooden nickels, Ralph! We’ll see you in the funny papers!”
Bergh Funeral Services is in charge of arrangements.