Ralph Lester Ruhlen 1921 - 2013
THE REV. DR. RALPH LESTER RUHLEN
Ralph L. Ruhlen died April 9, 2013. Rev. Ruhlen was born Feb. 2, 1921 at Neosho Falls, Ks., the third of five children of Rev. Charles and Edith (Stafford) Ruhlen.
He graduated from Madison High School in 1938 and earned his A.B. degree at Baker University in 1942. He entered Garrett Biblical Institute on the campus of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, studying philosophy of religion with Georgia Harkness, earning a B.D. degree in 1945.
Following his graduation he was ordained an Elder in the Methodist Church and was commissioned as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy. He served for 2 years, having duty at Corpus Christi, Texas, and aboard the U.S.S. Siboney (CVE-112).
Upon discharge from the Navy, he entered Boston University Graduate School, earning a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1959.
He served as pastor at Powhattan-Whiting Methodist churches in 1949-52. He taught at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas from 1952-57. He was then appointed to the Lenexa Methodist Church and served there until 1960.
In 1960 he joined the faculty at Baker University and taught courses in philosophy, logic and religion until 1985. He served as pastor at Ives Chapel in Baldwin from 1978-81. His last pastorate was at Hillsdale Presbyterian from 1982-1991. He also taught courses at the Christian College of Trinity University (1951), the University College of Rhodesia (1968), Epworth Theological Institute (1968), and Kansas University (1970). While at Baker, he taught Interterm seminars, taking groups of students to Africa, Europe and India.
Ralph was active in the Kansas Retired Teachers Association, serving as their President in 1990-92. He was director of the Santa Fe Historical Society, President of the Baldwin USD 348 PTA, a trustee on the Orchard Lane Nursing Home board and an officer with the Douglas County Advocacy Council. He belonged to the Baldwin City Recreation Commission, the Liaison for Seniors with the Baldwin City Council, and Master Gardeners. He also enjoyed over 20 Elderhostel excursions.
On June 18, 1944, he married Elizabeth Louise Cox. She preceded him in death on March 3, 1963. He married Phyllis Louise Mellenbruch on July 4, 1965. She preceded him in death on February 20, 1972. He was also preceded in death by his parents, his siblings Stafford Ruhlen & Lylas Gugler, son Paul Ernest Ruhlen, and grandsons George Ruhlen and Brian Lynn Blecha.
Ralph is survived by six children: Dr. James L. Ruhlen and his wife Leigh, David S. Ruhlen and his wife Betty, Dr. Thomas F. Ruhlen and his wife Sarah, Alice L. Blecha, Peter C. Ruhlen, and Dr. Rebecca N. Ruhlen and her husband Dr. Eriberto P. Lozada, Jr. Surviving grandchildren include Matthew J. Ruhlen, Todd W. Ruhlen, Sarah E. Ruhlen, Esq., Dr. Rachel L. Ruhlen, Jon D. Ruhlen, Esq., Dr. Laurel Ruhlen, Dr. Laura E. Blecha, Justin C. Blecha, Lisa M. Whitcomb, Christopher Ruhlen, Cassandra Ruhlen, Kyra Ruhlen, Patrick Lozada and Michael R. Lozada. He also has four great-grandchildren: Helen Davis, Vivian Ruhlen, Tyler Whitcomb & James Whitcomb.
Visitation was from 7:00 to 9:00p.m. April 12 at Lawrence Chapel Oaks, 3821 W 6th St Lawrence, Ks. Funeral services were April 13 at 11:00a.m. at First United Methodist Church, 946 Vermont, Lawrence, Ks., followed by interment at Oak Cemetery in Baldwin City, Ks. with military honors.
The family suggests memorial contributions be made to Douglas County Visiting Nurses, Presbyterian Manor of Lawrence, the Baldwin City Recreation Commission, or the Alzheimer’s Association.
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