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Ralph B. Zachman

Ralph "Oscar" "Zach" Bernard Zachman, age 80, of Bemidji passed away peacefully at his home on Wednesday March 11th, 2009 surrounded by family.

Memorial Services will be 10:30 am, Saturday, March 21, 2009 at the St. Philip's Catholic Church in Bemidji with Father Vincent Miller officiating.

Visitation will be from 4 - 7 pm Friday with memory sharing starting at 6 pm at the Cease Family Funeral Home in Bemidji. Interment following cremation will be at Greenwood Cemetery in Bemidji with military honors by the VFW Post # 1260 of Bemidji.

Ralph was born July 8, 1928 in Sauk Rapids, MN the son of Walter and Harriet Zachman, and attended Cathedral High School in St. Cloud, MN. It was there on the banks of the Mississippi River near St. Cloud that he first met his future wife, Mary Anne, who was carving initials on trees with her friends.

Ralph joined the US Navy out of high school near the end of World War II, and served as FC2 onboard the destroyer USS Kenneth D. Bailey (DD-713) and Essex-Class aircraft carrier USS Boxer (CV-21) over the course of the Korean War. While in the Navy, Ralph experienced a personal audience with Pope Pius XII, played on the Navy South Seas basketball team, and survived a catastrophic ship-wide hangar fire that the USS Boxer sustained during combat operations. He was proud to serve his country.

Honorably discharged from the Navy, Ralph wed Mary Anne Zapf at St. Mary Cathedral on June 27, 1953 in St. Cloud, MN. Ralph began his career working for Northwestern Bell Telephone Company as a lineman, eventually working his way into management. Turning down a promotion that would have moved him to a large metropolitan city, Ralph and his wife chose family values and the life a small town offers over monetary concerns to raise their family of 8 children and made their home in Bemidji. Over his career of 36 years he watched as Northwestern Bell split into AT&T. Shortly thereafter Ralph retired early from his supervisor position.

Being civic-minded he successfully ran a campaign for Bemidji City Council in 1982. He continued serving on the City Council and represented the people from Ward 1 for more than 20 years. Ralph was instrumental in many public works while in office. He took satisfaction with his role in the success of the Bemidji Airport Planning Commission, the New Public Library, Water Treatment Plant, and the annual Bemidji City of Lights Christmas display (Ralph's 'Blue Light' pine tree was a tree he sponsored every Christmas). He was especially proud of the enhanced safety provided Bemidji residents by the 'Alley Lights' program that placed lights in all of the alleys city-wide. Ralph was always known for his honest, well-informed nature on the City Council, and was never afraid to be the lone 'No' vote on an issue, based on principle - a vote he often cited as being the 'hardest vote to make'.

Ralph was a member of the Bemidji Rotary Club (serving as president in 84/85), was an active member of the American Legion, and VFW, and was a member of the League of Minnesota Cities and Greater Minnesota Cities boards.

Ralph was intensely proud of his family and grandchildren. He so enjoyed watching his kids play sports, and continued being involved in his grandkids sporting events. He particularly loved watching hockey, and was known as a "Hockey Grandpa". Neighborhood kids would often enjoy stopping by and talking with "Zach" while he was working in the yard, where he'd assign them nicknames, and invent games for them to play.

After his morning workout at BSU, Ralph enjoyed meeting with friends at Hardee's for coffee. Well-known for his humor, he often would share a joke or wry observation with friends and strangers alike.

He took enormous pride in his yard, his city, and his country, and proudly displayed the American flag in plain sight. He loved woodworking and became an expert in restoring antique furniture. Many times his 'workshop' was used as a gathering place for family. Summers were enjoyed sitting "out back" in his yard with Mary Anne while they listened to the Twins. He had a reputation for being a master at grilling.

Ralph had a keen appreciation of Nature (except perhaps for squirrels) and shared his love of it with his kids during outings to their "Lake Lot". He took pleasure in hunting deer and partridge, and relaxed on the lake while fishing. He also delighted in putting up his ever-growing Christmas lights display each year.

Ralph was a very special man; one-of-a-kind.

You never really leave a place you love; part of it you take with you, leaving a part of you behind. We will miss you terribly, and know the Lord has already saved you a place at His table.

Sadly missed, fondly remembered, Ralph is survived by: Mary Anne Zachman (spouse), Jean Salk (sister), Harvey Zachman (brother), Marilee Cripe (sister), Joanne Johnson (sister), Darnell Klein (sister) Wayne Zachman (brother), Children: Linda (Gordon) Cookshaw Jane (Paul) Josefson Sue (John) Sommer, Tom Zachman Jim (Michele) Zachman Kathy (Glenn) Mathiasen Steve (Holly) Zachman, Tracy (Keith) Wettschreck, 13 grandchildren, Chelsie, Molly, Jake, Nick, Thor, Courtney, David, Jordan, Sydney, Michael, Becca, Anne, and James, and "adopted family" Mark and Carla Johnson.

-- Paid obituary