KEWANEE - Ralph Luther Coplan, 100, one of the last of The Greatest Generation, died Friday May 1st, 2020. Ralph was born July 28th, 1919, in Colchester, Illinois, in the kitchen of his family home. He was the youngest of five children, Hazel, Franklin, Eldie, and Grace Miller, all preceding him in death. When Ralph was 4 years old, his family moved about two hours from Colchester to the town of Kenawee. He graduated from Wethersfield High School where he was a member of the track team. He was known by the nickname "Speedy" and he set a school record in the 220-yard sprint.
After graduation, Ralph worked as a Sales Rep for Walworth Valves and Fittings in Kewanee. He purchased a Chevy Coupe for $125.00. Ralph noticed a pretty young secretary named Ruth. Ralph enlisted in the US Army in 1940 at the age of 21; he and Ruth agreed to wait for each other until he returned from service.
After base camp and advanced training as an electrician for military aircraft, he was assigned to the Air Corp and reported to 15th Air Force Headquarters in Bari, Italy, rising to the rank of Buck Sergeant by the time the war ended September 2, 1945.
During his tour of duty in Italy, Ralph met Pope Pius XII at the Vatican where his Eminence blessed Ralph and three rosaries he purchased there as gifts, one of which was for Ruth.
In 1946, Ralph married Ruth, the great love-of-his-life, and they raised four sons together. After a move to Richmond, Virginia, Ralph worked 28 years in sales with Robertshaw Controls. Ralph and Ruth were married for 67 wonderful years until Ruth’s passing in December 2013. Ralph was preceded in death by two sons, Thomas Patrick and Samuel Lee. He is survived by sons Timothy Ralph, his wife Page, grandsons Timothy Charlton, Thomas Patrick, and his wife Lauren, and great grandson Mason Blackwell. Son Christopher Jon, his wife Pam, and granddaughter Jennifer Nicole. Granddaughter Nicola Marie and husband Coy Lee Tucker II, and great grandsons Thomas Patrick and Trace (Coy Lee III).
In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made to St. Mary’s Church, where Ruth and Ralph were members.