Ralph N. Schwanbeck, 97, of La Crosse, passed away peacefully Sunday, November 21, 2021, with family by his side.
He was born on February 13, 1924, in La Crosse, to Eugene and Zita (Knothe) Schwanbeck Sr. Following graduation from Aquinas High School in 1943, Ralph enlisted in the Army Air Corps to serve during World War II. He was training to be a Top Turret Gunner in a B-17 Bomber. On September 1, 1945, Ralph married his high school sweetheart, Dorothy Arentz at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, in Ajo, Arizona where he was stationed. After he was discharged from the Army Air Corps, they remained in Ajo, where their first child, Judith was born. In 1947, Ralph and Dorothy moved back to La Crosse, where they had two more children, Jim, and Mary, and continued to raise their family. Ralph and Dorothy celebrated 70 years of marriage before her passing in 2016.
Ralph was employed by Northern States Power Company for 25 years, a job he truly enjoyed. He worked in various positions including Service Repairman and Superintendent of the Meter Department. Ralph loved “Fixing things” and he was very good at it. He could fix just about anything from toasters to refrigerators and furnaces. He also loved old cars, owning both a 1928 Graham-Paige and a 1937 Rolls-Royce. He loved driving the Graham-Paige in local parades as part of The Old Style Auto Club.
Ralph had a deep commitment to his Catholic Faith, in God, and the Virgin Mary. His beliefs sustained him throughout his life and played a major role in his positive outlook. Ralph had a favorite saying; “Every day is a good day. Some days are just better than others!”
Ralph loved spending time with family and friends. He enjoyed gathering for holiday dinners, especially Christmas, his favorite. In his retirement years, he joined the Blessed Sacrament Church Choir, which he greatly enjoyed. His beautiful tenor voice could be heard throughout the songs.
In 2013, Ralph went on a Freedom Honor Flight to Washington D.C. He was all smiles when he returned that night, calling it “An experience of a lifetime.”
Ralph and Dorothy were wonderful Grandparents and would take the children when they were younger on bike rides all through La Crosse. They would go on the “Rabbit Trails” behind Myrick Park and down to Riverside Park to see the large paddle wheel boats come through. We hold these precious memories in our hearts.
Ralph is survived by his daughter, Judith King of Dallas Oregon, his son, James of La Crosse, and his daughter Mary (Joseph) Beranek of La Crosse; four grandchildren, Stephanie Ward, Jeremy Greenwood, Chris Carskadon and Andrea Carskadon; six great-grandchildren, Eli, Isaac, Zoe, Hilary, Sally and Maya; his sister, Betty Butterfield of La Crosse; and many nieces and nephews.
He is preceded in death by his loving wife Dorothy; his parents; his brother, Eugene (Leona) Schwanbeck Jr.; his sister, Zita (Joe) Fiebig; his grandson, Jon (Rachel) Greenwood; his son-in-law, Gene King; and his nieces, Mary Schlangen and Ann Fiebig.
The family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the wonderful staff at Hillview Terrace Assisted Living for the compassionate care given to Ralph the past three years. Also, a big thank you to Mayo Clinic Hospice for helping Ralph’s passing from this life to the next be peaceful.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 AM on Saturday, December 4, 2021, at Blessed Sacrament Parish, 130 Losey Blvd. South. Rev. Peter Raj will officiate with burial to be held in the Catholic Cemetery, La Crosse. Family and friends may visit from 9:30 AM until the time of Mass at Church on Saturday.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Blessed Sacrament Parish, in La Crosse.