On January 9th, 2018 Ralph Fitch, age 98, peacefully passed away at his home in Santa Rosa. Although small in stature, Ralph had a big heart, was a true gentleman, and loved by all that met him.
He was a native son, born in Santa Rosa, and never left the community he loved. He was the proud son of Lenora Guaspari and Romaldo Fitch, a direct descendent of Captain Henry Delano Fitch, for whom Fitch Mountain in Healdsburg Ca was named. His childhood was full of adventure, fishing, and hunting, as well as frequent visits to family and friends in Healdsburg, Geyserville, and San Francisco. As a young boy, he recalled being one of the first Californians to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge the day it opened to the public.
After graduating from Santa Rosa High School and Santa Rosa JC, he enrolled in Oregon State University, but was unable to complete his studies due to the start of WWII. He was drafted into the Army and became a medic. Through a number of fortuitous events, he was assigned to an Army Air Corps fighter squadron, stationed in San Jose, Costa Rica. He spent 4 years in the Army, attained the rank of Sergeant, and most important of all, met his beautiful wife, Ninette Le Franc. They married in Costa Rica, honeymooned in Panama, and after receiving an Honorable Discharge, settled in Santa Rosa to build his life and raise a family. He loved to tell the story of when he was questioned by his Commanding Officer about his marriage to a local lady in a war zone, generally not allowed during wartime, he whipped out a photo of Ninette, threw it on the CO’s desk, and the CO shouted, “I would have married her too” !!!!
After he left the Army he had a brief stint with Railway Express before joining PG&E in 1950. He held several supervisory positions in Customer Service before ultimately accepting a promotion to the intense and demanding job of New Business Subdivision Coordinator. The main focus of his job was in the rapidly growing area of Rohnert Park where he juggled the demands of 100’s of gas and electric subdivision service requests and became the “go to” guy at PG&E for many issues facing the City. In recognition of his contributions and service to the greater Rohnert Park area, he was awarded a “Key to the City” by the City Council upon his retirement in 1982.
Ralph had 3 loves in his life; his wife, children, and his beloved 120 acre cattle ranch, Buck’s Flat, 30 miles east of Red Bluff. This was his refuge, a place where he could unwind and enjoy the beauties of nature and indulge in his love of fishing and hunting. He also worked hard fixing barns and fences, making improvements to the ranch house, and tending to his cattle, It became a retreat for family and friends and although rustic and “off the grid”, it was a perfect place for him to relax. Upon retirement, he spent months at a time enjoying his beautiful Buck’s Flat.
He is survived by his 3 children; Marilyn, Carolyn, and Robert. He graciously welcomed Marilyn’s husband Brian, Carolyn’s partner Audrey, and Robert’s wife Jill into the Fitch family and was very proud of his 3 grandchildren; Michelle, Jacqueline, and Joseph.
Throughout his life, he was very generous to all his family. Ralph was a sweet, caring, loving man who seldom had a bad word for anyone. He loved baseball and his World Champion S.F. Giants. He enjoyed entertaining family and friends and, to the very end, was very appreciative of the wonderful life he had and the care and attention he received from his family in his later years. The family would also like to acknowledge the wonderful care and support he received from Sutter Hospice in the last 6 months of his life. Hospice was truly a blessing for Ralph and the family.
Family and friends are invited to attend a Celebration of Life on Saturday, January 27, 1:00 pm at St. Eugene’s Church, 2323 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa. A reception will immediately follow the service. In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer donations to Sutter Hospice, Santa Rosa Branch, 110 Stony Point Road #200C, Santa Rosa, Ca. 95410.