Ralph A. Wessman, age 82, of Sun City, AZ, and Cokato, passed peacefully into the Lord’s presence Saturday, March 24, 2018, after an eight-year battle with cancer.
He was born May 28, 1935, in Cokato, to Joseph and Lillian (Ekstrand) Wessman, the fifth of six children.
After graduation, Ralph enlisted in the US Navy and served as a radio man on airplanes and aircraft carriers during the Korean War. He remained in the Navy Reserves for an additional six years after his initial two-year deployment to the Mediterranean, and received two medals for his military service.
Ralph married Maureen Young of Stockholm Township Feb. 15, 1958, at the end of his active duty. Together, they raised five children, Todd, Kerry, Brent, Bethel and Sara.
Although he studied to become a teacher in college, Ralph pursued business with Jack Frost/Gold’n Plump in St. Cloud, eventually serving as the president/CEO. He retired in 1987.
In retirement, Ralph enjoyed woodworking, golf, and travel. Those around him were familiar with his good sense of humor, love of practical jokes, and fun.
Ralph was active in his community. He was a member of the Dassel-Cokato School Board, and served as chairman for a number of years. He was also involved in Cokato Charitable Trust, and in leadership with Central Minnesota Youth for Christ.
Ralph and Maureen hosted Campus Life meetings for high school students in their home for many years.
While a strong supporter of missions, Ralph, upon leaving the business world, became more personally involved, using his management experience to help develop the Jesus Film project/church planting project for Romania in the 1990s. Both he and Maureen spent a number of months living in Romania as this program developed. Campus Crusade for Christ ultimately used the template he helped create for the Jesus Film campaign in several other countries.
Ralph was a lifelong member and actively involved in leadership in his home church, Elim Mission Church in Cokato, as well as active in his adopted church, Grace Bible Church, Sun City, AZ, where he and Maureen wintered for more than 20 years.
Ralph is survived by his wife, Maureen; and children: Todd (Sarah) Wessman of Peoria, AZ, Kerry (Tom) Nelson of Cokato, Brent (Rebecca) Wessman of Annandale, Bethel (Mark) Vatsaas of Parker, CO, and Sara (Dana) Beuning of Sauk Centre; two sisters, Ruth Lundeen of Plymouth, and Janet Fusco of Elk Grove, CA; as well as 17 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.
Ralph is missed greatly, but, thankfully, he is no longer in pain, and at home with the Lord, whom he loved and faithfully served all of his life.
There was a celebration of his life Friday, March 30 at 2 p.m. at Grace Bible Church in Sun City, AZ. A memorial service and burial are also being planned for this summer in Minnesota.