Cover photo for Ralph Wickstrom's Obituary
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1925 Ralph 2019

Ralph Wickstrom

August 23, 1925 — December 13, 2019

Ralph Lee Wickstrom, age 94, of Ripon, WI passed away on Friday, December 13, 2019 at his home with his family by his side.

Ralph was born in Sioux City, IA on August 23, 1925, the son of Charles and Mabel (Deuel) Wickstrom. Upon graduating from high school in December of 1943, Ralph enlisted in the Navy Air Corp. He was sent to a special program located at Duke University where along with military instruction the enlistees could take regular courses and participate in athletic activities. There Ralph earned a letter in wrestling. As the war in the Pacific was ending, his group was sent to Seattle where they boarded an aircraft carrier and practiced maneuvering as they headed to Hawaii and the Philippines. Ralph was discharged in August of 1946 and, taking advantage of the GI Bill, enrolled in Morningside College. After receiving his BA degree, he spent one year at the University of Denver and then transferred to the University of Iowa pursuing masters and PhD degrees in physical education, obtaining the latter in 1953. He then embarked on a professional career in academia. He taught in three midwestern universities before coming to Ripon College as a professor, head of the P.E. Department and athletic director in 1961. He retired from the college in 1990.

Upon retirement, as a long time admirer of art, he got involved in the creative process. A chance encounter introduced him to a scrap metal yard nearby and in it he discovered scrap steel. He began looking for interesting pieces and shapes, brought them home and began putting them together as sculptures and objects of beauty. His creations range in size from 12” to over 6 ft. and he has done 350. His sculptures have been featured in six WI galleries. His pieces also reside in private collections from coast to coast.

Ralph is survived by his wife of 62 years, Jo Wickstrom; two daughters, Beverly (Dana Wachs) Wickstrom and Lisa (James) O'Dell; five grandchildren; two sisters; and nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Mabel Wickstrom; one brother and one sister.

There will be no service for Ralph and a Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. Memorials in his name may be directed to the charity of your choice.


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