Ralph Byron Scott, age 93, of Eau Claire, WI, died peacefully at home on December 6, 2020 in Eau Claire, WI, due to heart failure. He was born on September 21, 1927, to Ralph L. & Mollie H. (Oelke) Scott in Eau Claire, WI. Ralph married Norma L. Merrick on September 19, 1954, at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN. He was a member of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church (now Spirit Lutheran) in Eau Claire, WI.
Ralph attended school in Eau Claire and graduated at the age of 17 from Eau Claire Senior High School in 1945. Prior to graduation, Ralph and several of his classmates travelled to Chippewa Falls, WI, where they took the Eddy Test for radio technician training, in preparation for the anticipated invasion of Japan to end the war with the Japanese in WWII. They all passed the Eddy Test and deferred their enlistment until after high school graduation. Following graduation, they took the train to Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, IL for boot camp.
Upon completion of boot camp, Ralph entered Radio Technician school in Chicago. The program ended in September 1945, due to conclusion of the war. Ralph returned to Great Lakes and subsequently shipped out to the Naval Aviation Base in Lakehurst, NJ, which was the blimp station where the German dirigible Hindenburg exploded and burned prior to WWII.
Ralph was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1945, and immediately re-enlisted in the US Naval Reserves. He was commissioned as an Ensign in 1952. When he retired from the service in 1966, he was honorably discharged with the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade.
After discharge from the regular Navy, Ralph attended Eau Claire Teachers College. He then transferred to Colorado School of Mines in Golden, CO to study geological engineering. He finished his education at UW Madison, where he obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in petroleum geology.
Ralph exhibited his entrepreneurship at an early age as a paperboy working in the 9th Ward for the Eau Claire Telegram. He had a total of three routes, totaling approximately 300 customers. This was a large endeavor, as he was required to first pay the newspaper for the subscriptions and then subsequently collect payment from the customer. He hired two of his friends to assist him with the routes.
After college, Ralph worked as a field engineer for George A. Fuller Company in Chicago, IL. While there, Ralph and another engineer created a topographical map of the 1,000+ acres where a new power plant was to be built in Hennepin, IL.
Following his employment at Fuller, Ralph worked in sales training for Dearborn Chemical Company, also in Chicago. He then moved to Minneapolis, MN to work in the Industrial Development department of Northern States Power Company (NSP). It was his job to work with the communities and assist them in attracting new industry, and to assist new companies in their expansion plans.
Due to his experience in industrial development, Ralph was approached by Northwestern National Bank (now Wells Fargo) of Minneapolis to help create an Industrial Development department within the bank. Ralph accepted the offer and became the Assistant Director of Industrial Development (now called Economic Development). He worked with mergers and acquisitions, facility expansions and new company formations, in addition to attracting new companies to the banks’ service areas. This position required extensive travel across the country, where Ralph had the opportunity to meet with and solicit business from many of the US industry’s senior corporate leaders, including David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett Packard Corporation and General Leslie Groves, a VP of Sperry Rand Corporation (Groves was the Coordinating Manager of the atom bomb project during WWII). At the time he left the bank, Ralph was the Assistant Vice President of their Industrial Development division.
While at Northwestern National Bank, Ralph was approached to enter the aggregate industry as a co-founder and partner in Durex Products. This was a completely new start-up venture. The partners purchased the old Duncan Yo-Yo plant in Luck, WI. The plant was turned into a woven wire screen production facility with heavy steel looms from Germany.
In 1976, Ralph with his wife Norma, formed RB Scott Company. Norma managed the office and Ralph travelled the Upper Midwest weekly as the sole salesman. Their core vendors were leaders in the aggregate and mining industry. Ralph worked tirelessly for the next 17 years, traveling Monday through Friday, and Norma was his loyal partner who managed both the office and their home. Over those years, Ralph loved the challenges of the aggregate industry along with the customers and vendors with whom he became great friends. They received many awards from the companies they represented as rewards for their sales efforts over years of hard work and success.
Upon his retirement in December 1992, their daughter Nancy and her husband John Mickelson purchased the company from Ralph and Norma. In 2014, RB Scott Company was named Small Business of the Year in Eau Claire, by the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce. Ralph and Norma greatly appreciated the recognition of the Company that the two of them founded.
In 2013, Ralph and Norma were invited to Munich, Germany to attend BAUMA, the world’s largest construction and mining equipment exposition. There, as co-founders of the RB Scott Company, they were presented with the Pioneer Award for introducing the new German-designed polyurethane screen surfaces for use by the construction and mining companies to the United States. The award was presented by TEMA Isenmann.
Ralph was a Boy Scout and achieved the rank of Life Scout. When leaders of the troops had to leave in service for their country in WWII, Ralph was asked to help lead his troop and in doing so, missed the opportunity to achieve Eagle Scout. In 2019, Ralph received an honorary Eagle Scout from the Chippewa Valley Council - Boy Scouts of America, in recognition of his service to the scouts. Ralph was a member of American Legion Post 53 in Eau Claire for the past 22 years; past member of the American Industrial Development Council; the Great Lakes States Industrial Development Council; the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, where he chaired the Industrial committee and was a member of the Natural Resources Committee. He was the assistant secretary and manager of Valley Industrial Park, a community-sponsored endeavor of the Minneapolis business community, which owned over two-thousand acres of land south of the Minnesota River and east of Shakopee, MN. He was a member of the Chemical Marketing Research Association; President of Gopher Toastmasters in Minneapolis; Past Master Counselor of DeMolay, a recipient of the Chevalier Degree in DeMolay; a member of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity at Colorado School of Mines and UW-Madison. In 1998, Ralph was inducted into the ski organization at St. Christoph, Austria, named Brüderschaft, an organization in the Arlberg region of the Austrian Alps, where they inducted people especially active in the skiing fraternity.
Ralph thoroughly enjoyed the outdoors and all it had to offer. He always stated that no matter what the climate was, one needed to participate in what it had to offer. Early photos show Ralph on his first pair of skis at the young age of three! He had a passion for fishing, biking, alpine skiing, and most of all, heli-skiing. The Brule River, Bayfield on Lake Superior, skiing in British Columbia, Europe, the Midwest, or the western states of Colorado, Utah, and Idaho brought him so much joy. His daughters were taught early on to fish, alpine ski, and enjoy nature. These experiences did much for the girls in their lives and they have continued these traditions with their families.
Participating in the pioneering days of heli-skiing in British Columbia, Canada, was one of Ralph’s greatest adventures. Over the years, Ralph attained nearly 6.5 million vertical feet of skiing, with 52 trips over a period of 33 years. His last trip heli-skiing was at the age of 80. Meeting and making friends with people from all over the world were highlights for these adventures. The fellowships and friendships that Ralph developed were always kept in memory. After retirement Ralph and Norma spent winters and summers at their home in Sun Valley, ID, where he and his family continued to ski in the winter months and fly fish, hike, or mountain bike in the summer. He continued alpine skiing out west with family and friends through his 90th year. Ralph and Norma especially enjoyed seeing two of their great-grandsons learn to ski in Sun Valley, ID in 2019.
Ralph is survived by his wife of 66 years, Norma; daughters, Susan (James) Squiers of Savage, MN, Nancy (John) Mickelson of Eau Claire, WI and Patricia McCown of Eau Claire, WI; his grandchildren, Katherine (Shaughnessy) Murphy of Eau Claire, WI, Scott Mickelson of Plymouth, MN, and Mollie McCown of Eau Claire, WI; step-grandchildren Cassandra Koenig of Chaska, MN, Nicholas (Vanessa) Squiers of Chanhassen, MN, Derek McCown and Caitlin McCown, both of San Antonio, TX; 3 great-grandsons; 8 step-great-grandchildren; special cousin Diane (John) Dingman of LaCrosse, WI; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; a newborn sister; son-in-law, Mark McCown; father-in-law and mother-in-law, Alton and Anna Merrick; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Jack and Shirley Wicklund; brother-in-law, Donald Merrick; and cousin Robert (Dolores) Smith.
Memorials may be directed to:
Prostate Cancer Research, Department of Development, Mayo Clinic, 200 First St SW, Rochester, MN 55905; YMCA of the Chippewa Valley-Camp Manitou, 700 Graham Avenue, Eau Claire, WI 54701; or Chippewa Valley Council-Boy Scouts of America, 710 S Hastings Way, Eau Claire, WI 54701.
Special thanks to Kurt and Devyn with Mayo Home Health & Hospice for their assistance during Ralph's final days.
Due to COVID-19, a private family funeral service will be held on Thursday, December 17, 2020, at Lenmark Gomsrud Linn Funeral & Cremation Services, West Chapel in Eau Claire, WI. Interment will take place at Lakeview Cemetery.
Lenmark Gomsrud Linn Funeral & Cremation Services is assisting the family.
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