Ralph DePew

Published 4:45 pm Friday, January 11, 2019

Ralph DePew, of Sweetwater, passed away at 11 p.m. Monday, January 7, 2019, at his home. Ralph was born to Ralph Stuart DePew Sr. and Nancy Alma Brumit DePew in Elizabethton, Tenn., on August 29, 1925. He grew up helping run the family dairy farm that supplied the town with milk and sustained his parents, brother, and six sisters. He was known as “RS” or “the Judge” (for his serious countenance) to his family and friends. He did well in school and found a lifetime joy of playing music when he joined his high school band and learned to play the baritone and trombone.
Ralph continued to run the dairy farm through WW II and attended UT Knoxville from 1947-1951 where he met his wife of 67 years, Marilyn Means DePew. He was UT band captain for the 1950 season that culminated in a Cotton Bowl victory over Texas and a national championship. Ralph and Marilyn wed in 1951 and a few months later he joined the Navy in 1952. In his two years in the Navy he made LTJG and was a legal officer assigned to the USS General H.W. Butner. He made 22 round trips across the Atlantic between New York City and Bremerhaven, Germany.
After fulfilling his service obligation in 1954 he returned to Tennessee where he and Marilyn raised their four children in Monroe County. Ralph had a dairy farm and taught school. He was principal of Madisonville Jr. High until 1975 and of Sweetwater High from 1975 until his retirement in 1987. He was an active choir member at First United Methodist Church from 1957 on. He eagerly attended Kiwanis at every opportunity and was a local leader for habitat for humanity. He loved horses and rode as often as his responsibilities allowed.
The world has lost a great man. But there is hope and peace in knowing that he was greeted by lots of loving family, anticipating his return. But the greater joy is knowing that he was embraced with open arms by a Heavenly Father that surely said “well done my son.” Ralph lived his life based on God, family, community, hard work, and integrity. He was a great man.
He is survived by wife, Marilyn Means DePew; daughters, Leslie DePew and husband Ira Salemo, Paula Cooper and husband Brenton, and Amy Wolz and husband Denny; son, Eric DePew; and sisters, Charlotte Ann Boza and Gena Ruth Carter.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Ralph Stuart DePew Sr. and Nancy Alma Brumit DePew; brother, Winston Leon “W.L.” DePew; and sisters, Dorothy Alma Kelly, Virginia Jane Seal, Carol Louise Cooke and Cecilia Ray Morrell.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, January 13, at Madisonville First United Methodist Church with Pastor Keith Knight officiating. The interment service will follow. The church will provide an early supper for family and friends following the services. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Boys and Girls Club of Madisonville, First United Methodist Church of Madisonville, or the Alzheimer’s Association. The family will receive friends from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday at Madisonville First United Methodist Church.
Arrangements by Biereley-Hale Funeral Home, Madisonville.

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