Ralph Hanel Hunkins, 84, passed away peacefully at home in Talent, Ore., surrounded by family June 12, 2013. He was born June 27, 1928 in Deadwood, S. D., and grew up in Lead, S.D. with parents, Osa Hanel Hunkins and Ralph Valentine Hunkins, who were both raised on homesteads in Nebraska. Ralph enjoyed growing up in Lead, and developed friendships that lasted a lifetime. His years at Lead High School were some of the most enjoyable of his life. He was active in debate, oratory, track, class plays, operettas, boy's chorus, and in the band playing trombone.
Ralph studied to be a high school teacher at the University of Nebraska where both of his parents were alumni. At his first teaching job in Kearney, Neb., he coached the debate team and directed class plays. The Korean War draft took him away from teaching and put him in the Occupation army in Germany rather than sending him to Korea. Later, the GI Bill allowed him to earn a master's degree in international politics from the University of California, Berkeley, and to study at the University of Paris (the Sorbonne) in France.
Back in the U.S. Ralph worked in the international area-studies section of Department of State, Washington, D.C. where he met Margaret Glick, a social worker in Arlington, Va. They fell in love and were married in April of 1957. Their love and compatibility lasted for the following 56 years. The couple's first child, Joseph, was born in 1959 in Washington, D.C. In 1962 daughter, Martha, was born in Bloomington, Ind., where the young family had moved so Ralph could earn a Doctorate in education at Indiana University, in large part because he believed that education was a pathway to international understanding and peace.
In 1964, the family moved to Plattsburgh, N.Y., where Ralph was a professor at SUNY-Plattsburgh for the next 27 years, retiring in 1991. The family spent many happy years there and developed lifelong friendships. Ralph was a member of the local Rotary Club, the Methodist Church, and was involved with various community organizations. He enjoyed golfing, Montreal Expos games, playing bridge with friends, and spent summers taking his family on fun and educational vacations.
In 1999, Ralph and Margaret moved to Talent, Ore. where son Joe and family lived. Both Ralph and Margaret thoroughly enjoyed being with their grandchildren and watching them grow up. While living in Talent, Ralph was active with the Historical Society and participated in activities of the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.
Ralph was a conscientious professor and a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Margaret Glick Hunkins; son, Joe (Kathy Holden) and their children, Ben and Julia Holden-Hunkins, all of Talent, Ore.; daughter, Martha Hunkins (Carman Gentile), of Arcata, Calif.; and numerous loving nieces and nephews around the country.
A memorial service will be held at 3:00 p.m., Friday, June 28, 2013 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 87 Fourth St., Ashland, Ore. Memorial contributions may be made locally to the Access Food Share Program of Medford or to Heifer International. Ralph's cremated remains will be buried at Perl-Siskiyou Memorial Park in Medford, Ore., near the remains of his parents.