The Times West Virginian

November 20, 2012

Ralph Raspa

Times West Virginian

— Ralph Frank Raspa, 85, of Fairmont, died Sunday (Nov. 18, 2012) at home after a courageous battle with cancer.

He was born Feb. 26, 1927 in Rivesville, a son of the late Frank and Catherine Scalise Raspa. His mother died when Ralph was 12 and his father married Gemma Delorenzo, who became a loving mother to Ralph and his two younger brothers. She became a very endearing grandmother to their children.

Mr. Raspa retired 15 years ago. He was president of Community Homes Inc. for 37 years. Prior to this, he was president of Mountaineer Homes in Shinnston and president of Mount Vernon Homes in Lavale, Md. He built nearly 1,000 homes in those areas and set a record by being the only independent Lincoln Homes dealer to win the top sales award for 15 years. He built homes in 10 developments in the tri-county area. He built homes in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Kentucky. He served as president of the North Central West Virginia Home Builders Association and vice president of the West Virginia Home Builders Association. Ralph was named contractor of the year twice by the members of the association. He helped many families get into their own homes by financing or co-signing their loans when local financing was not available for them.

He was a Roman Catholic, and was a member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church on Alta Vista Avenue in Fairmont. He was a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus, Council No. 942, a 48-year member of the Elks Lodge No. 294, and a 24-year member of Moose Lodge No. 9. He was on the Board of Directors of the Marion County AAA since 1966.

Ralph was a member of the Armed Forces during World War II, rising to the rank of acting battalion sergeant major. He served in the infantry at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in Arkansas. Then he became a member of the Armored Infantry unit at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

He was editor of the Rivesville High School paper, Hi-Power, editor of a second battalion company newspaper and editor of The Columns at Fairmont State College. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from Fairmont State College, and was nominated to Who’s Who in American Colleges.

The Raspa family ran the State Theatre in Rivesville from 1922 until the late 1950s. Ralph became the manager in 1941, making him one of the youngest theater managers in the country. He developed a following for his movie reviews in Box Office Magazine and the Motion Picture Herald for the small-town movie exhibitors. He and his brothers, Nick and Sam, were always available to answer questions on movies old and new.

Aside from watching a great film, Ralph’s favorite pastime was spending time at the camp he built in Morgantown. He enjoyed being outdoors, and hosting friends and family to enjoy the property. Ralph loved to tell stories and always appreciated a good joke. He loved to travel and was fond of saying, “The more I travel the more I appreciate West Virginia when I get back home.”

He loved his family and friends and enjoyed being with them.

He is survived by one son, Ralph M. Raspa of Fairmont; two daughters, Cecilia A. Raspa of Fairmont, and Susan J. Raspa and her companion Steven Rodger of Rock Hill, S.C.; one lovely granddaughter, C’Anna Keffer of Arlington, Va.; his loving companion of 36 years, Martha Hawkins of Fairmont, and her children, Kim Archer and husband Eric and their children Jennifer and Shannon of Ada, Ohio, the late Kevin Meredith, T. Anne Hawkins and son Benjamin Hawkins of Morgantown, Martha Hawkins and fiancé Roger Shaw of Fairmont, Barbara King and husband Jim of Sweet Valley, Pa., and Tom Hawkins stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; two very close brothers and their lovely wives, Nick and Helen Raspa and Sam and the late Delores Raspa of Fairmont; and the mother of his children, Edith Raspa of Fairmont. Ralph is survived by many special nieces, nephews and cousins.

The Raspa family would like to extend heartfelt thanks to Mr. Mark Wotring and Mr. Jonathan Pyles of Amedisys Hospice Services for their compassionate care and caregivers, Susie and Kelly. The family would also like to thank Dr. Peter Ang, Dr. Paul Alappat and Dr. John Azar.

Pallbearers include Rick Bacco, Nick Fantasia, Rick Raspa, Robert Raspa, Frank Raspa and Benjamin Hawkins. Honorary pallbearers include Jim Martin, Joseph Farcin and Ed Daniels.

Friends and family may call at Domico Funeral Home, 414 Gaston Ave., Fairmont, from 1-8 p.m. Wednesday and 1-8 p.m. Thursday. The Knights of Columbus will hold a ritual at 6 p.m. Wednesday, followed by an Elks Club ritual at 7 p.m. A vigil service will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, led by Sister Stella Cronaur. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church with Father Richard Ulam, O.S.B., as celebrant. Interment will follow at Mount Carmel Cemetery with full military rites being performed at graveside by the Marion County Veteran’s Council.

Memorial donations may be made in Ralph’s honor to the Elks Lodge No. 294, 419 Adams St., Fairmont, WV 26554, for distribution to the charities supported by Elks National Foundation.

Condolences may be sent to the family online at