A lifetime resident of the area, Ralph Marcellus of Riverside Heights passed away at the Ottawa Civic Hospital on Thursday, March 2, 2017. He was 78.
Ralph was born in Williamsburg Township on December 16, 1938 to his parents George and Agnes Marcellus (nee McNairn). Ralph became a man of immense knowledge. He gained his knowledge by working alongside his father and by learning through doing. At just 12 years old, he began running wires and learning the skills of many trades.
Eventually he became a licensed electrician, but for those who knew him well, he was also a carpenter, a plumber, and really a “jack of all trades.” Ralph was able to fix or repair or build almost anything he needed. If he didn’t know how or hadn’t done something before – he just figured it out.
While doing some work on a house in Riverside Heights, Ralph met his future wife Marie Link. While they were courting, Ralph continued to work with his dad, George, at electrical work, construction, and other odd jobs.
After the Seaway went through, he and his dad did hay cutting for the Parks of the St. Lawrence. He later spent the remainder of his working years working for the Parks Commission.
Initially, Ralph worked for many years in the Saw Mill at Upper Canada Village, as a timber-framing carpenter while simultaneously making use of his electrical skills around the village when needed. This eventually led to him transferring out of the village and officially becoming an electrician for the Ontario Parks Commission until his retirement in 1998, after 31 years of service to the St. Lawrence Parks.
Throughout this time, Ralph and Marie eventually married in 1963, and later had three children. Ralph was an excellent father. Many people described Ralph as a “gentle giant” and that description was very fitting. Ralph was a big man, a strong man – both physically and in character.
For as long as possible, Ralph hired nothing done. He built his own house, barn, and shop; grew his own food; cut his own firewood; and did his own repairs. When he wasn’t busy doing those things for his own family, he helped other people with what they needed done. He also helped to build the Riverside Recreation Hall for his local community and volunteered countless hours at his church. Ralph took great pride in doing everything himself.
He enjoyed the simpler life – where family time was valued and people worked hard, doing everything themselves. He would rather have been tapping trees in the family’s sugar bush than travelling to Europe. Of the little bit he did travel, he loved to go to the Amish Country, to see the old way of life.
As a father, Ralph did his best to pass on his infinite knowledge and skills to his children. He always involved them in whatever project he was working on, instilling in them a strong work ethic and some basic knowledge of how to do things for themselves. As well, he taught them basic entrepreneurial skills by providing the equipment for them to cut grass as summer jobs and teaching them other ways to make money if ever needed, without having a “traditional” job.
Ralph also taught his family how to be kind, patient, and to believe that everyone can learn, given the proper guidance. The grandchildren too have fond memories of grandpa always trying to “teach” them things and he was very supportive of all the activities that his grandchildren participated in.
His grandchildren will never forget all of the helpful things that grandpa did for them throughout their lives. Ralph was a mentor to all of his children and grandchildren. He was very deliberate in teaching them all the value of family, as well as numerous skills that will serve them well in life, and he will be sadly missed.
Ralph is survived by his wife Marie, his children Bert (Sandi) of Pigeon Island Road, Ron of Ingleside and Cathy St. Pierre (Jason) of Riverside Heights, his siblings Ruth Merkley (Rowat) of Ingleside, Marion Johnston (Lee) of Morrisburg and Edna Dufresne (Brian) of Ingleside and his grandchildren Austin, Rayanna, Aleisha and Bryce. He is also survived by nieces and nephews.
Friends called at the Marsden and McLaughlin Funeral Home, Williamsburg, on Tuesday, March 7th from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Funeral service was held at the funeral home on Wednesday, March 8th at 11 a.m. with Rev. Joachim Barkley-Probst officiating. Pallbearers were Chris Merkley, Joey Dufresne, Gary Johnston, Steve Johnston, Gary Whitford and Linden Marcellus. Spring interment will be at St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery in Riverside Heights.
Donations to the Ottawa Civic Hospital I.C.U. or St. Luke’s Lutheran Church would be gratefully acknowledged by the family. Online condolences may be made at marsdenmclaughlin.com