Ralph L. Grigsby
Ralph L. Grigsby (Pop), 80, of Riverton, died at 12:13 am on Wednesday January 24, 2018 at Heritage Health. He was born on May 1, 1937 in Springfield to Fred Denniss and Ethel Grigsby.
Survivors include one daughter, Vickie (Gale) Lee of Chatham; two sons, Tony (Anne) Grigsby of Phelan, CA, and Tim (Sandra) Grigsby of Riverton; eight grandchildren, Whitney (Jake) Kendall, Mary Scarlett (Blake) Burba, Dalton (Kelsey) Lee, Dillan Elias (Kaity) Lee, Jeremy, Jake, Mikaylee, and William Grigsby; six great-grandchildren, Addelyn, Emery, Beckett, Quentin, Paisley, and Eowyn Jane; one brother, Herman “Butch” Duggins; four sisters, Carol Ann Alexander, Theresa Hibbs, Rita Everson, and Sheila Dorsey; and several nieces and nephews.
Ralph was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 55 years Mary Ellen, whom he cared for until the time of her passing.
Ralph grew up in the Devereux Heights area of Springfield where he was raised by his loving grandparents Alfred and Elizabeth Grigsby. He attended Lanphier High School. He worked many jobs growing up including working at the International Shoe Factory, where he met his future bride Mary Ellen.
At the age of 18, Ralph enlisted in the Marine Corps. He married his lovely wife after boot camp and began an incredible journey together. In the Marines, Ralph served at various duty stations including a Power of Peace Tour of the Pacific and Middle East with stops in Okinawa, Philippines, Vietnam, Korea, and the Middle East, as an anti-tank infantryman. After training as an aircraft technician, he was also stationed at Quantico, VA, Memphis TN, Beaufort, SC, with a brief assignment to Puerto Rico and Guantanamo Bay during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1964 Ralph transferred to the U.S. Army as a UH-1 helicopter Crew Chief. He served the Army at Ft. Carson, CO before going to Vietnam in 1965. He served with the 6th Aviation Flight Platoon as the Platoon Sargent from May of 1965 to May of 1966. While in Vietnam the 6th platoon was attached to the 5th Special Forces to provide helicopter support and transportation. The 6th was later absorbed into the 281st AHC. The 6th platoon and the 281st are recognized as the Army’s first Special Operations Helicopter unit. Ralph went on to serve in Virginia, Alaska, and Germany. He retired as a Master Instructor on turbine helicopter engines from Ft. Eustis, VA in 1975. Ralph earned the Good Conduct Medal six times, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Air Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, and the Army Commendation Medal.
After retiring from the Army in 1975 he was a resident of Riverton, IL where he briefly worked for St. Francis Convent. He worked for Garrett Aviation from 1976 to 1985 until moving to Yermo, CA where he worked at Lockheed Martin from 1985 to 1999 as a turbine engine mechanic and Shop Supervisor. After retiring from Lockheed, he returned to Riverton to enjoy life with family and friends.
Ralph was a member of St. James Church in Riverton, Riverton Knights of Columbus Marian Council 3914, and a 4th Degree Knight at the Bishop Griffin Assembly. Ralph was a member of the 281st AHC organization and was able to attend a couple of reunions.
Ralph lived an incredible life but he always felt his greatest accomplishments were his wife, children, and grandchildren. He always had a compassionate heart. He enjoyed helping those in need whether it be a close friend or a complete stranger. He had many hobbies including, hunting, shooting, collecting guns, working on cars, spending time with his grandchildren and his spoiled dogs Bella and Oliver. He was a frequent customer of the Route 66 Café where he enjoyed visiting his friends.
Visitation: 4-7 pm Monday, January 29, 2018 at Staab Funeral Home- Springfield. A second visitation will be held from 10 – 10:30 am, Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at St. James Church in Riverton.
Funeral Mass: 10:30 am Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at St. James Church in Riverton with Reverend Raphael Paul de Moreno officiating. Burial will follow at Camp Butler National Cemetery where military honors will be conducted.
Memorial Contributions may be made to the Land of Lincoln Honor Flight at 57 Country Place Springfield, IL 62703 www.landoflincolnhonorflight.org or Riverton Food Pantry at St. James Church 112. N. 6th St. Riverton, IL 62561.
The family would like to extend a very heartfelt thank you to the staff at the Heritage Health Hospice Unit for their loving care of our Dad (Pop).