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‘He cared’ — A tribute to Ralph Gerhardt
Ralph Delmar Gerhardt was a quiet man, but mention any of the causes about which he cared so passionately, and he quickly became animated.
He was quiet and unassuming -- soft-spoken -- until the subject broached something about which he cared so deeply.
Ralph was a regular at commissioners court meetings since he and his wife, Mary Ann, moved to Wilson County.
Other people knew him as the curator of the Jailhouse Museum in Floresville. He made it his job to know all he could about the jail and its colorful history. He gave tours and would describe in great detail the last hanging, or how the prisoners wrote messages in the cells. He spent hours interpreting those cryptic messages.
Or mention the military to the patriotic Ralph and he would tell you of the many, many times he and Mary Ann would recognize people for their military service. They would often go up to people in uniform and thank them for their service or even buy their lunch.
His appreciation for life and people opened a whole new persona -- literally -- for Ralph, who shared his joy as “Elf Jolly” during the Wilson County News and La Vernia News Christmas events.
Ralph developed the Elf Jolly persona a few years after Mary Ann began playing Mrs. Santa for the Wilson County News. Ralph went along, somewhat reluctantly at first, as Santa’s helper. But once he saw the twinkle in the eyes of little ones as he handed them a candy cane, he was hooked.
He even designed and had a special costume made. Each year, he would add another feature to make it more authentic.
It was almost in breathless excitement that he would talk about “next year” playing Elf Jolly.
But mostly, he wanted to be remembered as caring. In an interview last August for this newspaper, Ralph told correspondent Pascalle Bippert, “We are put on this earth to help people.
“I want her [Mary Ann] to put two words on my tombstone: ‘He cared.’”
Indeed, he did.
He was an avid reader and supporter of both the Wilson County News and the La Vernia News. We are going to miss him.
View obituary: http://www.wilsoncountynews.com/article.php?id=59073
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