Ralph Montalvin Stephenson Jr. was born in Hartsville, S.C. on June 27, 1956, to his parents Ralph and Minerva (Blalock) Stephenson. He died peacefully from pancreatic cancer in Gainesville, FL on October 12, 2020. Ralph’s childhood spanned the towns of Hartsville; Surfside Beach, S.C.; and Orangeburg, S.C., with the last town hosting most of his formative years. Ralph graduated from Orangeburg High School and followed his passion for languages and travel by earning a B.S. degree in Romance Languages from The College of Charleston (S.C.) in 1978. After working for several years as a manager of Belk’s Department Store, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where he was trained and served as a Russian linguist and subsurface augmentee operator for 18 years. His work for the U.S. Navy afforded him great opportunity for travel during his stations above ground (in Spain; Turkey; Monterrey, CA; Groton CT; Denver, CO; and Washington, D.C.) and in his underseas
submarine missions, including earning the rank of “cold-blooded blue nose” after breaking through the Arctic Circle ice on the USS Hampton. At the time of his death, Ralph’s residence
was in Wewahitchka, FL on the beautiful Chipola River, close to his Navy brother and fellow linguist of 38 years, Kim Hall. Ralph is remembered and deeply loved for his keen intelligence (mastery of foreign languages, avid reader); his creativity (masterful pianist); generosity (gift-giver of food, music, cars, humor, time, and so much more); and loyalty to family and friends (relationships mattered most to him). Everything about Ralph was unique and authentic, from his interesting t-shirts, spicy language, simple living, no need for recognition, politeness, to his large heart. Ralph is preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Maye Kathryn Stephenson Stirling. He is survived by his sister, Angela Stephenson Lindner; brother-in-law, Jim Lindner; and dear
friends, Celeste Bert and Kim Hall. In lieu of flowers, Angela and Jim ask that donations be made in Ralph’s honor and memory to AMVETS Post 231, 21128 Highway 231, Fountain, FL 32438. Condolences may be left in Ralph’s online guestbook at forestmeadowsfh.com. Arrangements under the care of Forest Meadows Funeral Home, Gainesville, FL. 352-378-2528.
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