Writings :: The Obituary of Ralph William Crossman

On January 25th, 2006 my dear father died of a heart attack alone in his house. Here is the obituary I wrote for him, using some of his own words about his life.


Ralph William Crossman (R.W.C.)
1942 - 2006

"I don't want to set the world on fire, I only want to start a little flame in your heart."

A heart attack sent Ralph off to the ultimate nineteenth hole on January 25th, 2006 -- in the only way he would have wanted -- quickly, easily and painlessly and at his home, 217 Notre Dame. Left celebrating his life are his mother, Jennie, his "two beautiful children", Jill & Patrick, as well as countless friends.

"I have been so blessed to have a wonderful mother and a precious family. My life has been a struggle but wonderful and filling." ~ R.W.C.

Ralph was born in Charlottetown on May 27th, 1942 during a "blinding snowstorm" to Jennie Boates and Bill Crossman. After Bill left the family, little five-year old Ralph and Jennie moved to Sherbrooke, and eventually Summerside. He had a rough upbringing by many standards, and often mentioned: "I don't know how my mother did it." He enjoyed the simple things in life and talked about enjoying a hot chicken sandwich with his mother and a bottle of orange pop for $1.50. And "sometimes, if mom could afford it, we would have apple pie and ice cream for 50 cents extra."

Ralph was always one to make the most of his modest standard of living. "In the winter, I used to shovel the open air rink on Granville Street and flood the ice with bowls of water on a sleigh. I used to get in free and have a cup of hot chocolate around an old pot belly stove." He was never short for a story: "I remember when mom got me a new three-speed bicycle for Christmas for $50. I sent it away because I thought they had the wrong address!"

At thirteen years old, Ralph joined the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets. This was a very important part of his life, and where he was taught discipline and respect. He played a B-Flat baritone horn and achieved the rank of Chief Petty Officer 1st class. In 1957, he played in the first cadet band in Canada to play for the Queen. A "very proud moment in my life," in 1961, he was selected the best cadet out of 2000 cadets.

"I learned early that lots of friends are very important in your journey through life." ~ R.W.C.

While Ralph may best be remembered as an avid golfer, in his high school years he was a star athlete in virtually every sport: volleyball, basketball, badminton, gymnastics, etc. He used to joke that he went right through school: "Right in the front door and right out the back." He also supposedly failed a grade on purpose so he could play basketball for an extra year.

After high school, Ralph moved to Charlottetown and started college. Shortly thereafter, however, due to a family emergency, he had to move back home to support the family. In 1969, he and George Lecky formed Lecky & Crossman Limited, an auto body repair shop in Summerside. After a great run with the business, Ralph sold it in 1989 and entered a well-deserved semi-retirement. For the next decade or so, he suffered the cold winds while stevedoring at the Summerside wharf, and then vastly enjoyed his summers golfing, sometimes two, or even three rounds a day!

No question, R.W.C. was a staple at the Summerside Golf Club, and enjoyed being a marshal for his last few seasons. He loved talking, and he loved laughing -- and what a laugh! And yes, it's true, against all odds he did get two hole-in-ones, the first back in 1987 and the second in 2001, acing the eighth hole in Summerside with a "utility wood." His second hole-in-one came only two days after he shot an 83, a net 59 when factoring in his 24 handicap! A star putter, it was nothing for him to complete a full round with only 24 swings of The Terminator.

Ralph loved life and he loved the smell of clover fields. He loved music and he loved to dance. He loved his lobster, he loved his steak and he loved his diet Pepsi. He loved watching the news, as well as any program about space. Classic cars were a big thing for him, too, with his pride and joy having been a 1956 Ford Crown Victoria, four-door hardtop, with a padded dash. Back in the 60s, he lucked out and bought one for $400. He eventually traded it straight up for his one and only new car, a 1966 Volkswagen Beetle. He hoped to one-day get that old Ford back.

"My little goals in life have been to try and bring smiles, show lots of love towards everyone and to try to never hurt a soul." ~ R.W.C.

Ralph served on countless committees over the years, and always gave generously of himself, from being a volunteer fire fighter for a number of years, to being the chairman of the community of Linkletter for 15 years.

In the early 1970s, Ralph married Thelma Waite -- and they ultimately had two children, Jill & Patrick, the births of whom remained two of the proudest moments in his life. Even though their marriage lasted only 19 years, Ralph and Thelma remained good friends up until his death.

Ralph missed growing up without a father; it was a "sad and lonely experience" and there's no question that was the reason he always tried to be -- and was -- the best father possible. Really. That tends to be said about most fathers, but in Ralph's case, it really, really is hard to put into words just how amazing he was. Whether it was Jill's gymnastic competitions, or Patrick's volleyball games, the ol' man was always there. Ralph had no regrets in his life and he truly lived each and every day as if it would be his last. He proudly walked Jill down the aisle, and was always there to pick Patrick up from his latest crazy adventure. He prepared his children for the world to the absolute best of his abilities, and through many close, heartfelt talks -- including one to each of his children only days before he died. Day in, day out, Ralph was always there. Always.

"My biggest wish is that Jill and Patrick love each other a lifetime." ~ R.W.C.

In his last few years, Ralph opened his heart to Donna Hughes, and she became a special part of his life.

His smile was a ray of sunshine, and his beautiful blue eyes were always so warm and welcoming. And his laughter, his jokes, his personality, and his love -- so many things, experienced by so very many fortunate people. And his advice...he had world of advice for anyone who would listen.

"It's a funny thing to realize when you are 16, 17, 18, that 60 is old and you think that you will never reach there. But you do, and it's not all that bad, except that you spend a lot of time reflecting and you wonder where the time has gone. You can never undo what you have done, but you can always do what you haven't done...so do it!" ~ R.W.C.