Ralph R. Ferris of Morenci, Mich., died at his home Sept. 15, 2022, at the age of 92.
He was born April 27, 1930, in Blissfield, Mich., the sixth child to Fred V. and Rita (Fancher) Holmes. At the young age of nine months, his mother, Rita, died and soon after, his father, Fred, died from complication of serving in World War I. Ralph was legally adopted at the age of one by L. Sherman and Florence M. (Hayes) Ferris of Morenci. His name was legally changed from Ralph Raymond Holmes to Ralph R. Ferris.
Ralph attended a one-room schoolhouse in the Morenci area and graduated from Morenci High School with the Class of 1948. He attended Adrian College for one year before enlisting in the United States Air Force. He proudly served his country for four years as an airplane mechanic and served one year in the Korean Conflict on the fire and rescue team. After his honorable discharge from the Air Force, Ralph continued his interest in rescue and firefighting, serving with Hudson Fire Department and then Morenci Fire Department for more than 30 years. While on Morenci Fire Department, he attained the rank of assistant chief. He and his wife, Mary, were instrumental in organizing the rescue squad in Morenci. He held the rank of rescue captain and taught the EMT course to many.
He met his future wife, Mary Ellen Beaverson, in 1950 outside of Fayette, Ohio. On June 11, 1955, they were married at the Morenci United Methodist Church by the Rev. William Johnson. Together, they lived 64 of their 67 married years together in Morenci.
Ralph was an independent gas and fuel dealer serving farmers, commercial and residential clients with Cities Service, Sinclair and Union Oil. While continuing the oil business, Ralph and Mary purchased, co-owned, and operated Mary and Ralph’s Drive-In. Later, Ralph sold the business and he worked at Culligan as a salesman for more than 30 years, retiring at the age of 90.
Ralph was a life member of the AMVETS of Adrian, life member of the VFW Post 7424 in Wauseon and past commander of the former Morenci VFW, life member of the Fairfield (Mich.) Masonic Lodge, member of the Order of the Eastern Star of Fairfield, member of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of Scottish Rite of the Valley of Toledo, and a former member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
He was a member of the Morenci United Methodist Church since the age of 12 and held various positions in the church, most recently serving as trustee. Ralph was also past president of the Evelyn and Ronald Wirick Scholarship Board for more than 30 years. Until his death, he was still serving on the board.
In his free time, Ralph enjoyed photography, fishing, hunting and gardening.
In addition to his wife, Ralph is survived by son Durke E. (and Barbara) Ferris; daughter Carla R. (and Roger) Ford; grandchildren Durke T. (and Karen) Ferris, Na Dedra S. (aka Missy) Motley, Seth D., Connor D., and Lillie Rae Ford; step-grandchildren Heather Dawn (and Randy) Couch, and Travis, Haley, Johnathan and Victoria Anderson; 15 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his biological and adoptive parents; sister Marian (and Lowell) Delcamp; and brothers Norman (and Ardyth), Fred (and Joan), Glennis (and Marvel) and Paul (and Mary Jo) Holmes.
Visitation is planned from 2 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, at Eagle-Marry Funeral Home - Morenci Chapel. A fire department walk-through is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. and a Masonic service at 7 p.m., followed by an Order of Eastern Star service. Funeral services begin at 11 a.m. Saturday at Morenci United Methodist Church, with pastor and nephew Dean Leininger and pastor Bob Dister, officiating. Interment will follow at Oak Grove Cemetery with military honors accorded by the Fulton County Honor Guard and fire department tribute by the Morenci and Wauseon Fire Departments.
Memorial donations are suggested to Morenci Fire Department, Morenci United Methodist Church, or VFW Post 7424 in Wauseon.