Ralph Emerson Matthews, 95, died Dec. 14, 2019 in Lodi. He was born March 27, 1924 in Burr Oak, Kansas to Stanley and Inez Matthews. Born to a farming family in Kansas that moved to Idaho to farm and settle in Star, Idaho, Ralph graduated in 1942 as the Salutatorian for his class. He played clarinet in band, was in drama and played football.
Ralph entered the Army Air Forces in 1944, where he was a P51 fighter pilot, during WWII. At the age of 21, he was flying P51s in the 8th Army Air Force in England. After the war, Ralph continued his education and graduated in 1948 with his bachelor degree and teaching credentials from University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho. He obtained his master’s degree from University of California in Davis.
Ralph was a lifelong educator, starting his teaching career in Pocatello, Idaho. He moved to Redding and taught agriculture at Shasta College in 1950, where he met Patricia Turner. Ralph and Pat were married in 1952. He taught high school in Durham, Calif., where he was the FFA advisor. In 1962 at Durham High School, he was the first ag teacher in California to allow girls to take agriculture classes. Ralph also worked for Ralston Purina as a salesman where he received many recognitions of his work and sales.
In 1964, Ralph, Pat and their two sons, Craig and Doug, moved to Stockton, where he was an ag instructor at San Joaquin Delta College. Ralph left Delta College to work for the California Community College Chancellor’s office as an agriculture specialist and administrator. Ralph was the only person in the history of the Chancellor’s office to be assigned three different deanships. In 1968, Ralph moved his family to Galt, where he ranched and farmed walnuts. He retired from the State of California Department of Education as Dean with the Chancellor’s office in 1987.
Ralph enjoyed fishing, watching the 49ers and Giants, and was an avid golfer even into his 95th year. He was very proud of his “hole-in-one” at the Forest Lake Golf Course.
Preceding him in death were his wife of 63 years, Patricia Matthews; his parents, and two brothers, Miles and Gale Matthews.
Surviving him are two sons: Craig (Lyndie) and Douglas (Diana); five grandchildren, Jennifer (Scott) Howell, Katie (Ryan) Patterson, Michael (Sarah), Daniel (Vanessa), Sarah (David) Baumbach; 14 great-grandchildren; and brother-in-law Michael (Lindsay) Turner.
In memorial, any donations can be made to San Joaquin Hospice in Ralph’s name.