American Veteran 01

Ralph D. Freshwater

February 24, 1920 ~ April 2, 2019 (age 99)

Ralph D. Freshwater, age 99, of Wintersville was called home to be with his heavenly lord and his loving wife of 64 years, Mary Rigby Freshwater, who passed away May 11, 2005. He was born February 24, 1920 at Paris, PA, a son of the late Christy and Victoria (Chess) Freshwater, and was raised near Colliers, WV. Preceding him in death were four brothers, Chester, Stanley, Larry and Raymond, and three sisters, Hattie Kimberland, Violet Reese and Betty Huntington. Ralph graduated from Follansbee High School and later completed his education with Chicago Technical College. He won the WV High School State Championship in the mile run for his last two years in high school, and he also broke several Ohio Valley track records. He enjoyed hunting, tennis and golf. He was the last of five brothers to enter the armed services in WWII. He enlisted in the flying cadets, hoping to become a fighter pilot, but instead became an armament waist gunner on a B-17, flying thirty missions over enemy Europe with the 8th Air Force. He was awarded the air medal with four oak leaf clusters and the Purple Heart. Upon his return from the Air Force, he resumed his work as a carpenter and later became a contractor, builder and developer, building several hundred homes, apartments, churches and warehouses in the local area. He was a charter member and served four terms as President of the Home Builders Association of the Upper Ohio Valley. While in his first presidency, the association received a plaque commending them for being the most progressive association in the State of Ohio. He also served on the OHBA executive committee, served as a delegate many terms and as area Vice President.  Ralph was a member of Starkdale Presbyterian Church since 1950, having served several terms as deacon and on the board of session. He served on the building committee for the new church in 1954 and again, on the renovation committee in 1979, where he supervised a major renovation. He was a charter member of the Jefferson County Airport Authority where he served five years and helped in building the new airport. He was recognized by the Ohio Division of Aviation for his outstanding contributions to the Jefferson County Airport, and the Airport Authority honored him by naming the terminal building for him. Having been a pilot since 1954, one of his most favorite enjoyments was taking children for their first airplane ride.  He also served on the local Selective Service Board for five years, one year as chairman. He along with two others researched their family history 500 years back and published two books. Ralph was the recipient of the Frank P. Layman Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.  He was actively involved in his community and his affiliations included the Steubenville Masonic lodge 45; Sons of the American Revolution- George Washington Chapter, PA, Wintersville American legion Post 557; Jefferson County Historical Society; 92nd Bombardment Group Memorial Corp.; 8th Air Force Historical Society, Inc.; Steubenville and Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce; Aircraft Owner and Pilot Association; National Federation of Independent Business.  Ralph was a dedicated, loving and generous father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He is survived by a son, Douglas (Charlene) Freshwater of Wintersville, daughters Dianna (Don) Vandeborne of Wintersville and Marion "Bootie" (Mike) Schuck of Bloomingdale; eight grandchildren, Terri (Jeff) Smith, Douglas (Jan) Freshwater, Mike (Krissy) Freshwater, Kurt Vandeborne, Don (Karen) Vandeborne, Heather (Adam) Tabor, Michele (Stefan) Vantchev and Mike Schuck II; fourteen great-grandchildren, Zachary, Ariel and Gavin Smith, Dustin, Adam, Madison, Mike, Austin, Peyton and Drake Freshwater, Donnie and Karlie Vandeborne, Benjamin and Jenna Tabor and Starr Vantchev, and sister Doris Grimes of Arizona. Friends may call at the Starkdale Presbyterian Church, 4600 Sunset Boulevard, Steubenville, OH, on Saturday from 10 a.m. until the time of funeral service at 1 p.m. with Rev. G. Carl Moore officiating. Burial will follow at Union Cemetery, where full military services will be accorded by the Ohio Valley Veterans Memorial Squad.  In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be directed to Starkdale Presbyterian Church -or- Jefferson County Airpark, 600 Airpark Drive, Wintersville, OH 43953.

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