Wednesday, February 6

Ralph Morrell 1919 - 2008

I can't say as I really "knew" my grandfather all that well. I have memories of him that stretch back to when we were living in California. I remember he was good in his shop, and seemed to enjoy building things. My dad tells me he was good at photography and really enjoyed it, but I never really got to know that side of him. I do know that he liked ships a lot and enjoyed being on the water. He and my grandmother used to cruise a lot and I've seen many pictures of them in far off places standing in front of a boat on on the deck of it.

Back in April they moved houses and it was before I was sick so I helped them move. I came across a bit of history tucked away in a glasses case. It was two newspaper clippings. One of them from 1949, and the other was probably from a couple of years earlier.

Honeymoon in Carmel
"Miss Vasalee Edith Vandivort, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Vasa Vandivort, 1739 Termino Ave., became the bride of Ralph Morrell, son of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Morrell, 934 Pacific Ave., in a ceremony June 4 at the First Foursquare Church. Rev. William Nickerson officiated at the 4p. m. nuptials.
The bride was gowned in white slipper satin made en train and her long veil was held in place by a halo of orange blossoms. She wore a blue cameo necklace, an heirloom belonging to the bridegroom's grandmother. Her bouquet of gardenias was centered with a white orchid.
Mrs. Juanita Austin, matron of honor, wore a yellow satin gown with matching halo and mitts and carried pink roses in a fan-shaped bouquet. The bridal attendants Mrs. Phyllis Williams and Miss Shirley Mittlesteadt, wore pink satin gowns with matching halo and mitts and carried yellow roses in fan-shaped bouquets.
Flower girl was Miss Vera Louise Vandivort, and candlelighters were Ted, Gene and Ray Vandivort.
Best man was Mr. Horace Harkness, and ushering duties were attended to by Messrs.[sic] Robert Hayden and Robert Wonnell.
A reception at the church followed the ceremony. Mrs. R. Vandivort of Mountain Grove, Mo., was hostess, and was assisted by Mrs. Sam Henrickson of Seattle, Wash., Mrs. W. C. Austin, Mrs. W. Williams and Miss Mittlesteadt.
The bride was graduated from Wilson High School and attended business college. The bridegroom is a graduate of Polytechnic High School and attended Long Beach City College.
The newlyweds honeymooned in Carmel, Monterey, and Santa Cruz."

There you have the wedding announcement, June 4th 1949, of my grandparents. A little look back into the past and a little hint of the man. (He carried it around with him in his glasses case.)

The other news clipping I found was from earlier than 1949, I'm not sure of the exact date, but it includes a bit of information about my grandfather as well.

"Three enlisted men, residents of Long Beach, now serving with an Aircraft Warning Regiment of the Sixth Air Force Fighter Command in the Panama area, were awarded the Good Conduct Ribbon at an impressive ceremony held at a Sixth Air Force base. The award was made by Brig. Gen. Russell E. Randall, Commanding General of the Sixth Air Force Fighter Command.
The men who received the award were: Corp. Willfred Lumsden, 1071 Orange Ave., Corp. Ralph Morrell, 934 Pacific Ave., and S/Sgt. Alfred T. Riley, 1856 Cedar Ave.
The Good Conduct Ribbon, issued in lieu of the medal, which will be presented after the war, is awarded to all enlisted men who have served at least one year in the armed forces subsequent to the time the United States entered the war, as a testimonial to their loyalty and fidelity to duty. In addition, they must be recommended by their commanding officers for excellent character as well as efficiency in the performance of their duties."

I think both of those articles speak to the kind of man he was. I might not have known him very well, but I can at least see the effects of his life in a man I know better, my father.

Thanks for letting me share. (Picture of Ralph Morrell by Adam Morrell.) I fell like this is a nice way to celebrate the 6th anniversary of this blog. Thanks for reading and here's to many more years of memories, laughs, and ponderings!



  1. That was beautiful, Ben. Thank you.

    Dad and I were talking about Papa the other night. I mentioned that I felt I didn't know him well, either. Those stoic Englishmen! But we noted how his 3 sons have remained faithful to their wives over many years of marriage. He might not have said much, but his actions seemed to speak loudly to those sons. Dad brought up a cute antidote, that again, showed the character of the man. A few months before he passed, he told Grandma that it was time for him to go home. His dementia had him confused and he thought he was at someone else's house. He also didn't recognize Grandma as his wife of 58 years. She said, "Ralph, why don't you just come to bed with me?" He said, "No, that just wouldn't be right."

    Papa may have been silent, but he walked uprightly.

    Thanks again for writing your blog entry.

  2. Anonymous9:55 PM

    He was quiet, and loved photography. I was looking for some pictures to put into a slide show today. I found an album from when he first started in photography, in high school. He looks very young and most of the pictures are of girls he knew in school. He was actually very good at keeping in touch with people, sending birthday cards and such. He even kept in touch with a couple of girls from high school all this time. I have even met one of them.

    He also liked to work with his hands, making things for the house and repairing things around the house. He taught me all I know about how to fix things.

    I think one of the things that will stick with me is actually one of his last days. He was at the nursing home waiting for my mom to get there. He recongized me when I came up, but didn't really say or do much. A couple other people tried to engage him in conversation, but he would not talk. When my mom walked up, he perked up. "Where have you been?" he asked. My mom greeted him and told him she was going to put her coat away. As she walked away, this man who had been suffering from dementia, very clearly and loud enough for those around to hear, "She is the best wife ever!" Love for a wife after 58 years of marriage cannot be put down by dementia.

    Dad/Pappa P

  3. Anonymous9:08 PM

    The Saturday before Dad passed away he provided a lasting memory for Mom.

    Again, awaiting Mom's arrival he was sitting at the dining room. When she walked in he commented "There you are, I love you so much, Would you marry me?" After 58 years Mom again said yes. The whole dining room applauded. It was only a few days later he began to slip away.

    Every night I would visit, he would always ask about each of the boys and Mom. Even with Dementia he would remember that Greg loved the snow, Pete knows his cars, and Paul can handle anything to do with computers. He would always make me promise that I would take care of mother and keep the boys in line.
    It was always after this conversation, he would venture back into his mind to the cruise ship he was on. So Dad, I can only imagine that heaven is more beautiful than that cruise to Tahiti!

  4. Anonymous8:59 AM

    Hello, this may seem a bit strange but I have been searching for a Ralph Morrell of Long Beach for nearly a year now, I am very sorry to hear he has passed away.
    Was his mother Lydia Morrell nee Rigby, if so I think we may be distantly related as Ralphs grandmother who is listed on the 1930 census as living with him is my Great Great Grandmother who emigrated from Liverpool (where I am from).
    Please can you contact me at, we would so much like to hear about that side of the family as we don't know much
    Many Thanks


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