MERIDIAN – Ralph F. Peak passed away on December 30, 2018, at the age of 93, a few days after celebrating his 66th wedding anniversary and the Christmas holidays with his family.
He was born in 1925, to Paul and Verl Peak, the second of four brothers in Denver, Colorado. He proudly served his country in the Field Artillery during World War II, and in the Chemical Corps during the Korean War. He was a chemical engineer, avid reader, devoted husband and loving father.
Gifted in math and science and the ability to create things, he received a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Washington in 1955 and had a varied and interesting career spanning the use of slide rules to the use of computer technology. In the military at Dugway Proving Ground, he specialized in the testing of chemical weapons, and in his later civilian career with Boeing in the safe management of hazardous materials. He most enjoyed his decades as mill superintendent for Union Carbide and subsidiaries, designing and improving processes for refining uranium, vanadium, and tungsten ores.
Ralph met Mary Lou Pierce during the summer of 1951 when they both served at Dugway, and married December 22, 1952. They had four children, Lois, Frank, Marie, and Jim, and also welcomed David and Ned (sons from a previous marriage) into the family when their mother died. Ralph was a supportive husband and encouraged his wife’s medical career. Their professional lives and love of adventure took them on a life journey through six states and 21 different homes. They also traveled to four continents continuing to learn new things and meet new people to put on their Christmas card list.
Ralph was a dedicated family man. Patient and supportive, he rarely criticized or spoke ill of anyone. He was always there for his children, and happy to help with tough homework problems and school projects. His after-work hours were filled with listening to and encouraging his children, driving carpool, coaching Little League and leading Boy Scouts. He believed in education and loved books, leading his children on weekly trips to the local library, and spending many quiet hours lost between the covers of books. Science fiction and historical fiction were his personal favorites, and he enjoyed looking things up in the encyclopedia, talking about interesting facts, and reading the daily comics.
Ralph was always thinking about how to make procedures better and more efficient. In 1967, after taking a defensive driving course, he suggested a new safety guideline for vehicle following distance that was adopted by the National Transportation Safety Board. The change was – from one vehicle length for every 10 miles per hour, to three seconds at any speed.
His hobbies as a young man included skiing, hiking, rock polishing and climbing in the Flatirons of Colorado. In later life he enjoyed photography, film developing, stamp collecting, making and furnishing tiny dollhouses for his daughters and granddaughters, and playing pinochle with his wife and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents and two of his brothers, Paul and John. He is survived by his wife; his younger brother, Roy; six children; ten grandchildren; ten great-grandchildren; and hundreds of boxes of Kodachrome slides of happy family times.
The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, at Summers Funeral Homes—Ustick Chapel, 3629 E. Ustick Road in Meridian, Idaho, where friends and family may call from 12:30 until 1:45 p.m.
A graveside service and burial will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, at Valley Vu Cemetery in Malta, Idaho, where military rites will be provided by the Mini-Cassia Veterans Group. In lieu of flowers and to encourage science and research, the family requests that friends consider supporting efforts to overcome Parkinson’s disease.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the care of Rasmussen-Wilson Funeral Home of Burley.