Sunday, February 6, 2011

In Memory Of Ralph Koser Wittle (1922-2011)

'some things looming' will be closed for bereavement, February 12, 2011.

I hope you'll forgive me my indulgence as I include an excerpt of an article about Ralph. I guess it makes me feel good to share him with you. The "battery-operated old man" referred to his pacemaker and was his standard response to, 'How are you today Ralph?" Reply?, "Not bad for a battery-operated old man."

Ralph Wittle married my mother, about 34 years or so ago. He survived my mother by seven years. Even though he was a 'step' parent to us, we spent a lot of years together as family, and wanted to share a little bit about him. I found this brief article about him in relation to his volunteer time at the Chris Sanderson museum. It gives us a glimpse into a very nice and very interesting man.

Among many,many other things, Ralph was an artist and pretty decent writer. He knew a lot about art history and a trip to any kind of museum with him was always very enlightening. He was very well read, very political and often not politically correct. He loved God and he loved and served his country.


Excerpted from, Ralph Wittle in the Volunteer Spotlight By Chip Lohmann:

Ralph Wittle, the Sanderson Museum's self-proclaimed "battery-operated old man" was born on August 30, 1922 in Florin, PA (which is now part of Mount Joy). He was anything but a lonely child as he was the youngest of 15 kids.

Ralph was inducted into the Army in September 1942 and did his basic training in Texas. Married a year later, he was sent overseas as part of the Third Battalion, 407th Regiment of the 102nd Infantry Division. Ralph landed in Cherbourg, France and was soon sent to the front as part of a forward party.

In October 1944, Ralph's unit was assigned to the area along the Netherlands/Germany border. Eventually, they participated in the Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns. He proved to be a model soldier, earning the Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, American Service Medal, EAME Service Medal with two bronze stars, Victory Medal, Occupation Medal, and the Combat Infantry Badge. His division took more prisoners than any other unit in the war.

During his final tour of duty, Ralph served as battalion Sergeant Major. His unit was positioned on the Elbe River when the war ended in May 1945. Ralph was later transferred to the 15th Tank Battalion which was stationed in Rothenburg, the oldest walled city in Germany. After earning enough points to be discharged, Ralph was released from the Army in February 1946.

Ralph Wittle
Ralph K. Wittle, 407th Regiment, 102nd Division, Infantry Rordorf, Germany, December 1944.

Finally a civilian again, Ralph worked in Washington, D.C. for a short while, before putting himself through the Hamilton Watch Company School in Lancaster, PA. Also attending Bowman Tech, Ralph was certified by the Horological Institute of America as a Master Watchmaker.

He eventually began work at Sears in May 1958, repairing timepieces right up to his retirement in June 1986.

For the complete article: click here.

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