Funeral services for Ralph Williams was held Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 at 11 a.m. at First Lutheran Church in Morris. Rev. Paul Erdal officiated. Visitation will be held Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m with a prayer service at 7 at the Pedersen Funeral Home in Morris and for one hour prior to services at the church on Thursday. Burial was in Summit Cemetery in Morris.
Ralph Williams was born on June 19, 1916, in Glenwood, Minn. to Martin and Carrie (Avdem) Williams. He grew up in Glenwood and graduated from Glenwood High School in 1934. He was very active in the music department. He attended the University of Minnesota where he received his degrees in music. After teaching in Brainerd one year, 1941-42, he entered the U.S. Navy and was a gunnery officer in the Pacific Theater in World War II. He served four years in the Navy. After the war he was a choral director at the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus. In the 1950s, he also was conductor of the Minneapolis Apollo Club male chorus. John K. Sherman of the Minneapolis Star, in writing about the Apollo Club, stated "Ralph E. Williams obviously has trained these men with a firm hand, with ideals in production and interpretation he wants attained, and has gone a long way toward attaining. The chorus has poise and power, and has taken on substantial and frequently difficult matter." Ralph married Martha Ohlson of Brainerd on Dec. 26, 1949. In 1960 he came to Morris as one of the first year faculty at the University of Minnesota-Morris. He organized the first music groups, the band, choir, men's chorus and symphony orchestra. He took the men's chorus to the World's Fairs in Seattle (1962) and New York (1964). As a composer he had about 90 published choral works for churches, colleges and schools. Some have band arrangements. He retired in 1978 and continued to make his home in Morris. They had one son, Brian, who lives in Morris.
Ralph E. Williams, age 96, of Morris, died suddenly at his home on Saturday night, Feb. 2, 2013.
He is survived by, in addition to Martha and Brian, several nieces and nephews and beloved dog "Sandy" (an "Eskipoo"). Ralph was preceded in death by his parents and by his four brothers: Clyde, Joe, Andy and Howard.
Ralph and Martha were active in Sons of Norway, the UMM Retirees Association, Heart to Heart and the Good Sam RV Club. They belonged to First Lutheran Church in Morris and attended regularly with son Brian. They enjoyed dining at the Morris Senior Community Center on weekdays, and attending special events there. Very special to Ralph were the family's dogs, "Misty" and "Heidi" before "Sandy." The Williams family was among the original residents of a stretch of homes along Northridge Drive. Ralph was a close friend of neighbors Les and Gena Lindor, and Ralph and Les died within months of each other.
Ralph received a five-vessel heart bypass operation in the mid 1980s at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. His family considers it a tremendous blessing he lived such a long and full life after that. He greatly appreciated the strides and commitment in medical science. He appreciated life all around him, the activities and people making up Morris and UMM.
Suggested memorials can be given to: UMM Music Department, First Lutheran Choir, WCROC Horticulture Gardens and Stevens County Historical Society. Pedersen Funeral Home in Morris was in charge of the arrangements.
To send condolences to the family please visit www.pedersenfh.com.