734 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 79 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2021
a director of the Richmond Gateway Theatre and a director of the Richmond
Hospital Foundation, and was involved in countless other causes. Ralph’s
outstanding contributions to his community were recognized in 1992 when
he was awarded the Governor General’s Commemorative Medal bestowed
on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada to
individuals who had made significant contributions to compatriots, community
Despite all of his accomplishments, Ralph was a modest man. There was
no guile or pretence. He was fair, firm and respectful of others whether they
were his clients, other lawyers or staff. He was good listener and goodnatured.
He loved people; few could work a room as effortlessly as Ralph
because he was genuinely interested in others. To me he was a mentor and
a friend. Early in my career, I was at my desk at a Vancouver firm when I
received a call from a recruiter asking if I would interview for a job in Richmond.
The position was to assist Ralph in his burgeoning farming practice.
The main prerequisite according to the recruiter was that Ralph was looking
for someone “with shit on their boots”. Having grown up on a farm myself,
I apparently qualified. I learned a great deal from Ralph, some of it law, but
most of it more important life lessons: to be fair and unfailingly honest, to
treat people with respect and to give back. Most of these lessons were
implicit, learned through example rather than the spoken word.
Ralph planned to transition to a partial retirement where he could reduce
his hours but still come to the office to mentor the next generation of
lawyers and meet up with his lifelong clients, many of whom had become
friends. Regrettably, this did not happen because Ralph was taken from us
too early, beset by Alzheimer’s disease that progressed quickly and altered
those plans. It is a cruel condition but one made worse for someone such as
Ralph who made his living with his intellect. Ralph was fully aware of his
diagnosis. He handled it with grace and dignity. His concern was primarily
for his family, not his own well-being.
Ralph was a special man and the legal profession and his community are
poorer for his passing. A fitting tribute was held for Ralph this past spring
when a funeral procession in his honour wound its way through his beloved
east Richmond, passing many of the farms he had known since childhood.
People lined the route wishing Ralph a fond farewell. He is sorely missed by
his family, friends and colleagues alike, but his memory lives on as a source