Ralph D. Kroeger, age 81, of Effingham, IL, died at 6:48 a.m. Saturday, October 22, 2016 at Lakeland Rehabilitation & Health Care Center in Effingham.
Professional services have been entrusted to Johnson Funeral Home, 1110 N. Fourth Street, Effingham, IL 62401. The family will announce a mass in his honor and memorial services at a later date.
Memorials may be made in loving memory of Ralph to The Effingham County Humane Society, P.O. Box 321, Effingham, IL 62401.
Ralph was born on April 25, 1935, in Chicago, IL, the son of Hermann and Harriet Raphael (O’Brien) Kroeger. He married Joann Wajs on September 23, 1961, and she survives.
Ralph was a U.S. Army Veteran who served from 1954 to 1956. He attended Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago. He studied mechanical drafting and automotive repair.
Ralph sold newspapers at age 8 and worked in a salvage yard at age 14. He loved all forms of transportation, including ships, planes, trains, and automobiles. As a young man, one of his first jobs was as a fireman for the Pennsylvania Railway. While growing up, his family moved frequently, so Ralph aspired to own his own land. At age 18 he proudly purchased a small plot in Lake Geneva, IL. Some years later he purchased land on Rural Route 40 in Funkhouser. Here he owned and operated Quality Auto Parts. When this business ended, Ralph became a traveling salesman for Edward Don & Company, a foodservice equipment company. He honed his people skills, liked to dress sharp, and savored the good food of his many appreciated customers throughout Central Illinois. Against his wife’s better judgement, Ralph would sometimes bring to the supper table strangers in need, whom he met along the road, to share in one of her home-cooked meals. Ralph retired from Edward Don.
Ralph was raised Catholic and he and Joann were members of St. Anthony Church in Effingham. In his later years they often prayed the Rosary daily. Other interests included his model trains, “playing the stock-market” and keeping up on current events through his favorite newspapers, The Chicago Tribune and The Wall Street Journal.
Ralph was an outspoken individual who made his voice heard. He conveyed to his family the importance of hard work, education, travel, sticking together, a respect for the world, and the value of creativity and eccentricity.
Ralph is survived by his wife, Joann Kroeger. She resides in the Alzheimer’s Care Unit at Aperion Care, St. Elmo. Ralph and Joann were joined in the sacrament of marriage for over 55 years.
They had 6 children. He is also survived by his children, Lisa (Yoshi) Hayasaki of Champaign, Janice (Judy Klingler) Kroeger of Stow, OH, Steve Kroeger of Albany, NY, Laura (Dr. Joseph) Solan of Shumway, Brett (Christian Ketchum) Kroeger of Lake St. Louis, MO, and Valerie (Kelly) Smith of Chicago. Ralph has 14 grandchildren, 2 great-granddaughters, and twin great-grandsons, soon to be born.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and younger sister, Mary Kroeger.