Chocolatespoon: Emily’s Musings

And more remarks

Posted on: October 17, 2006

Here are Uncle Doug’s remarks from the Memorial Service for Grandpa. Others can be found here and here

(Note: I ended up losing some of the nice comments people left recently about the service)

Opening Remarks

(Strike gavel)

Be it RESOLVED that THE meeting of this community of Ralph’s friends shall take place at the Westport Town Hall ¬– 11:00 am Monday Oct 9th, 2006 lasting a period of 1 hour. During said time, interesting facts shall be presented, won derful stories and memories shared and beautiful music created in honor of one RALPH SHEFFER.

All in favor of this RESOLUTION signify by raising your right hand and say AYE !

I always wanted to do that, all those years my dad moderated the RTM

My name is Doug Sheffer and I’m Ralph’s middle son, here today to preside over these proceedings.

During our time together, you will hear from seven (7) people:
3 from my dad’s distant past
3 from his less distant past
and 1 from his more recent past
I’ll let them decide where they fit into that scheme

BILL HEINEMAN – an old FRIEND (with the emphasis on the word friend)
ALAN RABINOWITZ – my uncle, Ralph’s brother-in-law, originally from Westport
DOUG SHEFFER – your “presider” of today
DIANE FARRELL – immediate former 1st SELECTWOMAN
BRIAN REICH – Bostonian grandson
JONATHAN – Ralph’s other son

I would like to also point out other family members who are here today but will not be seen speaking: my aunt Susan Malloy, sister Ann, brother-in-law Bill Scheffler, wife Barbi, friend Christopher Bailey and honorary stepmother Lois Schine. Brian will introduce the grandchildren of his generation.


Entered service 1 JAN ‘43
Shipped out on destroyer GWIN 7 APR ’43
GWIN sunk 13 JUL ‘43
Shipped out on battleship North Carolina 29 JUL ‘43
Disembarked North Carolina 15 SEP ‘45
Discharged 15 FEB ‘47

Ralph Sheffer
as remembered by son Doug

Simply put, my Dad was a complex guy with a myriad of interest and talents. Yet in the complexity of his daily life he had just a few simple passions.

He was passionate about his town, his country, his friends, his wife Betty, his family, later Lois Schine and her family and SPORTS..

Whereas Betty was the athlete of the family and mother of our childhood, Dad was both the grandpa and grandma of our adult life as well as THE SPORTS FAN. There was a time in his life where he was a walking encyclopedia of sports trivia and statistics, storing hundreds of players batting, running, pitching, jumping and kicking records in his head.

From Baldwin, LI to NYC to Westport, he studied Law, excelled in the field of Sports Advertising and the business of building a town.

A private person with a public persona.

The man Paul Newman played in the movie “Rally ‘Round the Flag”

A Naval officer, a coxswain and a sailor. He once told me a story about WWII which went something like this: (torpedo in moonlit night on USS North Carolina)

My dad was sunk once downed once in an airplane, drowned once and revived in that War. All this from a guy who really wasn’t much of a swimmer and didn’t particularly like to be around the water.

As a coxswain at Columbia, he discovered the shocking news that he would have to learn how to swim in order to graduate. Not an easy task at that age. Although he never surpassed Jonnie Weissmuller’s records, he tried and did manage to pass Columbia’s swimming test.

Here are some other rapid-fire impressions of my Dad:

An adman – could turn a phrase
An organized guy – the sock drawer
Simple tastes – drove a Plymouth
A solid citizen – RTM, Historical Society, The Arts Center, The Library
A moderator – lived life by Roberts Rules of Order
A loving, devoted husband – proud father
An educated guy – Columbia at an early age
An executive type – the ubiquitous yellow pad
A guy with high expectations of people, causes and projects
A guy who liked a job well done
A guy who liked a good laugh and to be well entertained

It’s interesting that golf Legend Byron Nelson passed away on the exact same day as my Dad. Byron Nelson was the Tiger Woods of his day achieving an astounding11 tournament winning streak in 1945 which stands to this day as the most remarkable year in the history of Golf.

Dad once wrote a pamphlet on Golf as part of a promotion package. It was entitled “Play it Pro” and I still have a copy in my golf bag in Colorado.

In one of Byron’s last interviews in 1997, he had this to say about his life.

I don’t know very much
I know a little bit about Golf
I know how to make a stew
And I know how to be a decent man

Sounds a lot like my Dad

Well maybe not the part about the stew.

I’d like to personally thank all the caregivers, other than immediate family members, who were around my dad in his later years.
Gem, Kofi, Joan, Lois Schine, and Jimmie.. and his cat Mittens.

You were a big part of his life, a second family

In closing, Winston Churchill once said:

You make a living by what you get
You make a life by what you give.

That sounds more like my Dad.

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