Ralph Depew, of Sweetwater, passed away at 11 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, at his home.
Ralph was born to Ralph Stuart DePew Sr. and Nancy Alma Brumit DePew, in Elizabethton, on Aug. 29, 1925. He grew up helping run the family dairy farm that supplied the town with milk and sustained his parents, brother, and six sisters.
He was known as “RS” or “the Judge,” (for his serious countenance) to his family and friends. He did well in school, and found a lifetime joy of playing music when he joined his high school band and learned to play the baritone and trombone.
Ralph continued to run the dairy farm through World War II, and attended UT Knoxville from 1947-51, where he met his wife of 67 years, Marilyn Means DePew. He was UT band captain for the 1950 season, that culminated in a Cotton Bowl victory over Texas, and a National Championship.
Ralph and Marilyn wed in 1951, and a few months later he joined the Navy in 1952. In his two years in the Navy, he made LTJG and was a legal officer assigned to the USS General H. W. Butner. He made 22 round trips across the Atlantic between New York City and Bremerhaven, Germany.
After fulfilling his service obligation in 1954, he returned to Tennessee where he and Marilyn raised their four children in Monroe County.
Ralph had a dairy farm and taught school. He was principal of Madisonville Junior High School until 1975, and of Sweetwater High School from 1975, until his retirement in 1987. He was an active choir member in First United Methodist Church from 1957 on. He eagerly attended Kiwanis at every opportunity, and was a local leader for Habitat for Humanity. He loved horses and rode as often as his responsibilities allowed.
The world has lost a great man. But there is hope and peace in knowing that he was greeted by lots of loving family, anticipating his return. But the greater joy is knowing that he was embraced with open arms by a Heavenly Father that surely said, “well done my son.” Ralph lived his life based on God, family, community, hard work, and integrity. He was a great man.
Preceded in death by: his parents, Ralph Stuart DePew Sr. and Nancy Alma Brumit DePew; brother, Winston Leon “W.L.” DePew; sisters, Dorothy Alma Kelly, Virginia Jane Seal, Carol Louise Cooke, Cecilia Ray Morrell.
Survivors include: his wife, Marilyn Means DePew;
Daughters, Leslie DePew and husband Ira Salemo, Paula Cooper and husband Brenton, Amy Wolz and husband Denny;
Son, Eric DePew;
Sisters, Charlotte Ann Boza, Gena Ruth Carter.
The family will receive friends from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, at Madisonville First United Methodist Church. A celebration of life service will follow at 3 p.m. at the church, with Pastor Keith Knight officiating. The interment service will follow. The church will provide an early supper for family and friends following the services.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Boys and Girls Club of Madisonville, First United Methodist Church of Madisonville, or the Alzheimer’s Association.
Arrangements by Biereley-Hale Funeral Home in Madisonville.