A memorial service for Ralph Leslie Sweet,96, of Coos Bay will be held at 11 am, Saturday, September 21 at the Emanuel Episcopal Church, 400 Highland Avenue, in Coos Bay. A reception will follow the service.
Ralph Leslie Sweet was born at his home in Langlois, Oregon on June 16, 1923. He passed away in the comfort of his home on Coos River, on August 20, 2019.
Ralph was the son of Arthur Percy Sweet and Docia Lossie Sweet, the youngest of their 4 children. Siblings included Sid, Effie (Parsons) and Neonta (Hall).
In 1925 Ralph’s family acquired the Arizona Inn, south of Port Orford. The family provided room and board to travelers along the seasonal road that would become US 101. They enjoyed hosting weary travelers at the Inn. Guests ranged from cowboys with herds of cattle to famous big bands of the roaring twenties along with their entourages. There was often lively entertainment after dinner. Travel subsided dramatically during the Great Depression and the family moved to the Sweet Ranch at the mouth of Sixes River in 1935. The family settled in comfortably to the wind-swept vistas north of Cape Blanco. The primary means of accessing the ranch was a foot bridge from the Cape Blanco Road on the south side of the river. Strong winds were known to blow the foot bridge sideways when the children were crossing on their way to and from school. If the footbridge was likely to be blown upside down, the children were allowed to spend the night with Hughes family on the south side of the river. The Hughes hung a sheet in a 2nd floor window to signal Art & Docia their children were safe.
Fall was Ralph’s favorite time of year. In addition to milking cows, his after-school chores included going to the mouth of Sixes River to catch salmon. Snagging was legal in that era. Ralph carried a stout home-built rod with a modified reel. He was fast and accurate with his hooks, quickly earning the nickname “Deadeye.” The salmon were canned and provided an important source of nutrition for the family. Home spun music remained an important part of family life at the mouth of Sixes River.
WW II interrupted the serenity, and Ralph joined the Navy the day he turned 18. Characteristic of the Greatest Generation, Ralph spoke little of the war and considered his contribution nothing more than a rightful obligation. Ralph saw action in the Alaskan Campaign, South Pacific and the liberation of the Philippines.
After the war, Ralph returned to Curry County. He married Caryl Ann Vanderwall of Ashland, in 1951. They bought a ranch up Sixes River where they raised sheep and milked cows. Ralph also fell timber for a living. Their son Kent and daughter Melodee were born on the ranch. The family moved to Coos Bay in 1958, when their children reached school age. Twin sons, David and Daniel were born in 1964.
Ralph managed timberland fire suppression and security for Weyerhaeuser for 25 years until he retired in 1991. Ralph provided loving healthcare for Caryl Ann prior to her death in 2001. They had been married nearly 50 years.
Throughout his adult life, Ralph was a member of the Masonic Lodge. He respected the ideology of the Masonic Lodge and valued the friendships he made in Masonic organizations including Eastern Star. Ralph joined the Episcopal Church after moving to Coos Bay and remained an active member of Emanuel’s Congregation for the remainder of his life. Ralph married Jeannette Brunell in 2005. With similar backgrounds and shared beliefs, they found enjoyment and solace in their golden years. Friends and family were the center of their lives. The coffee pot was on and friends were always welcome. Their home was often filled with the joy of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. After the guests were gone, they enjoyed the solitude of their ranch on Coos River. It was a special evening when the fog rolled in and the elk came out.
In lieu of flowers, Ralph requests donations to Emanuel Episcopal Church or the Masonic Lodge in Coos Bay.
Arrangements are under the care of Coos Bay Chapel, 541-267-3131.
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