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South Texas Living

‘We’re put on earth to help other people’

‘We’re put on earth to help other people’

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Pascalle Bippert
WCN Correspondent
August 21, 2013
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This is the latest in our occasional series about friends and neighbors, who quietly go about contributing to community life, not seeking acknowledgement or acclaim, simply “doing their part.”

“If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do.” -- Lucille Ball

That’s a saying I’ve heard through the years, and two of the busiest people I’ve ever met are Ralph and Mary Ann Gerhardt.

Ralph is on several committees; Mary Ann, his right hand, keeps pace right along with him. They have been married for 29 years. Ralph has a bachelor’s degree in math and collected enough college credits as required to have an additional degree in physics. He retired in 1995.

Mary Ann is a member of the Wilson County Republican Party, and serves as precinct chair for Precinct 415 and as a deputy voter registrar. She is also vice president -- soon-to-be president -- of the Wilson County Republican Women.

Ralph attends many meetings of Wilson County organizations to keep abreast of issues that concern the public. He has attended Wilson County Commissioners Court meetings since 1995.

He and Mary Ann also serve on the board of the Wood Valley Acres Homeowners Association. Ralph has been a board member for more than 30 years and served as president for 10 years. He organized the Design Review Committee for Wood Valley Acres to monitor new construction, ensuring quality neighborhood aesthetics. Ralph also wrote, maintains, and delivers the Wood Valley Acres welcome packet for new residents.

Mary Ann came up with the idea to recycle aluminum cans and use the proceeds to pay for new fireplugs. Ralph and another resident make mobile patrols of Wood Valley Acres to make sure the neighborhood is secure from individuals doing damage, crime, or mischief. He also sat on a committee to help get Wood Valley Acres paved.

Ralph is also the vice president of Wilson County Crime Stoppers; he has been on the board for 14 years. Mary Ann is an associate member.

As part of Ralph’s service on the Wilson County Development Review Committee, he monitors major projects around the county. One that has caught his eye is the Mission Rail Industrial Park. He also monitors the Rancho Grande Industrial Park, the Woodlands subdivision, and new RV parks under construction.

The couple attend as many meetings of area entities as they can, such as La Vernia City Council, Wilson Memorial Hospital District, Floresville City Council, and area emergency services districts.

These two also are members of the Wilson County Historical Society. Ralph gives tours at the Wilson County Jailhouse Museum and serves as one of the museum directors. Last fall, he hosted “ghost tours” in the museum for several paranormal groups from South Texas, who set up cameras and gear overnight to investigate possible paranormal activity there.

The couple are also members of the Wilson County Patriots, a local group of the San Antonio Tea Party.

And their work doesn’t stop there. The Gerhardts helped organize and participated in one of the rest stops for the Poth “Ride to Remember,” a fund-raiser for the Alzheimers Association. This year’s ride is Sept. 7 in Poth.

While it’s clear that Ralph and Mary Ann have the community’s best interests at heart, they also care about the environment. Ralph serves on the Wilson County Recycling Committee.

Mary Ann and Ralph also donate blood. To date, Ralph has donated 114 pints and Mary Ann has donated 74.

To keep up such an exhausting pace, they must take care of themselves. To that end, Ralph has been a proponent of healthy eating for 41 years. He and Mary Ann are members of “Hallelujah Acres;” this healthy-eating support group meets monthly at the La Vernia Christian Teaching Center. Largely based on Old Testament diet, members eat vegetarian, vegan, and raw food and share recipes with others who want to eat healthy. Ralph has studied “natural health” since 1971 and has read hundreds of books and thousands of articles on the topic. He is interested in cancer prevention and ways to control and cure it. He is very passionate about this way of life and maintains that a person who eats naturally can escape the ravages that cancer wreaks on the human body.

And just for fun, Ralph and Mary Ann get into the Christmas spirit by being “Elf Jolly” and “Mrs. Claus” at the La Vernia News, Wilson County News, The Frank Garrett Center in San Antonio, and the Regency Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation in Floresville. And Ralph also enjoys ziplining!

“We’re put here on earth to help other people,” Ralph said.

And that’s how he’d like to be remembered.

“I want her to put two words on my tombstone: ‘He cared.’”

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