Nothing new, same old thing, standing room only. A line, three abreast, out the door onto the parking lot. Just like Crushed Red for lunch, just like his Gaslight Square Theater soliloquy appearances. This time, on Friday May 9, the crowd was at Congregation Temple Israel, where over 1000 friends, colleagues and his extended family gathered to honor and mourn the sudden and unexpected loss of this extraordinary man. This was indeed a beautiful ceremony, officiated by Rabbi Amy Feder and Rabbi Michael Alper.
Ralph Kalish (September 6, 1950, May 4, 2014) was a dedicated husband and father – at his memorial Eleanor, his wife of 34 years, and their three boys (Manning, Powell and Graham) gave warm, humorous and moving recollections of Ralph. The closeness of this family was palpable. The number and diversity of those coming to pay their respects was indicative of Ralph’s myriad interests, talents, and numerous friendships. He was not only a great patent lawyer but also a gifted actor, playwright and a successful restaurateur. All of these things are well known. But there was yet another aspect of Ralph not knowable outside the family – how fully he embraced this extended family of ours. When his sudden death occurred I was putting together some photos of this year’s Easter-Passover gathering at Moone Athy. As those of you who attended know, this was a sublime event – perfect weather, delicious food. And it was Eleanor and Ralph who made it so. It was their turn to ‘do the duty’, and as always, it was done with their usual enthusiasm and taste.
Ralph’s vision was always directed upwards. As an actor and/or playwright, when he settled upon a life to extol it would be a life that, like his own, left the world a better place. Hence his choice last year of Branch Rickey. Rickey was the St Louis Browns and later St Louis Cardinals manager who went on in 1945, as president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, to begin the integration of baseball by hiring Jackie Robinson. On the Easter Sunday one week before his death Ralph told me of the next project he had in mind – to depict on stage the character of Angelo Roncalli (later Pope John XXIII). Roncalli was noted for his efforts to reach reconciliation between Jews and Catholics. He had during WW II done much to rescue many Jews from the Holocaust in Hungary, France, and East Europe. Alas, another home run by Ralph was not meant to be. He will be greatly missed by the entire family that he so embraced, a family that benefited so much from him.
The St Louis Beacon posted a wonderful piece on Ralph and his life here…