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Ralph Pfeiffer, born June 1, 1921, son of Ralph and Edith Travis Pfeiffer of Natick MA, passed away at Genesis Mineral Springs in North Conway NH. Ralph attended Natick Public Schools and graduated from Natick High School, Class of 1939. He was valedictorian of the class of 1941 at Green Mountain College and then entered Harvard University as a junior.
In 1942, Ralph enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard. After boot camp, he was assigned to the USS Sylph and the Navy Sonar Division, where he trained sonarmen and participated in antisubmarine R&D. His unit was later transferred to Port Everglades, Florida.
In 1944, Ralph married Catherine McGuigan Hursh in Fort Lauderdale where they lived until the end of the war. After discharge from the Coast Guard, Ralph joined Pan American Airways in Miami. He transferred to Pan Am’s new Boston office and rose to Commercial Sales Manager for New England. He and Kay resided most of their lives and raised their family in the boyhood home his parents built in Natick.
Ralph opened Pfeiffer Travel Center in Cochituate MA from which he and his wife Kay led numerous tours to the Holy Land and other pilgrimage sites. His career also enabled him and Kay to travel the world, visiting numerous countries in Europe, Asia and South America.
Throughout his life, Ralph read voraciously, mainly history, and pursued many hobbies intensely, including gardening, photography, carpentry, stamp collecting, wine-making, building small boats, hunting (His most exotic pursuit was crocodiles in Haiti), fly fishing, ice fishing, and lobstering (He built his own traps), but his favorites in recent years were gardening, especially award-winning dahlias, oil painting, and reading. At 85, he and Kay drove from Natick to Alaska to California and back towing a 21’ RV.
After retiring, Ralph decided to finish his college education in the Graduate Education Department at Framingham State University. One of the oldest college students in the United States, he earned his Bachelor’s degree at age 86 and his Master’s degree in his 90s.
Ralph is survived by his son John (wife Beverly) of Denver CO, his daughter Kathleen Wishard of Federal Way WA, his daughter Margaret Phillips (husband Lee) of Jackson NH, and his son David (wife Stephanie) of Winthrop MA. He also leaves ten grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. Ralph was predeceased by his wife Catherine of 73 years, and an infant son, James Gerald.
Contributions may be made in Ralph’s memory to the Natick Historical Society: www.natickhistoricalsociety.org
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