August 13, 2004
In 1945, Ralph was serving in the Air Force. He was stationed in Foggia, Italy. That year, Ralph decided to dedicate his life to fulltime Christian ministry although he didn’t know where God would lead him. When he returned home to Oklahoma, he enrolled at OBU, where he solidified several decisions that guided his direction.
The first came by way of Beverly Huff, a fellow OBU student. He saw her standing in line waiting to enroll for classes. “I never dated back in my hometown or when I was in the service. Then I came to OBU and saw Beverly.” He remembers that when they first met, he didn’t know what to say. “I was so tongue-tied,” he says, “and she was so poised.” Ralph and Beverly married in the August of 1947 after only meeting the September before.
The second decision came in his senior year when Ralph took a pastoral position at Trinity Baptist Church in Enid, Oklahoma. “We traveled back and forth to Enid on weekends,” Ralph says. “We slept in the car each Sunday afternoon.” After some time, the church found enough money to supply a hotel room each week, and after almost two years, the church invited him to serve full-time. He had yet to finish his work at OBU, lacking one foreign language class. Ralph says he made the effort because of the OBU faculty. Dr. Yarborough sent him a note that read, “‘You need to get back here and finish that degree. When you finish that, you need to get into seminary.’ He is the one who got me back to OBU,” Ralph says. “Dr. Yarborough was perhaps the most important influence in my life, other than my dad. He was the sweetest, kindest and gentlest man I ever knew. He was one of the teachers who knocked the bark off of me and settled me down to a gentler spirit.”
Ralph served the Enid congregation until 1954. By that time, he and his wife were parents of their first son, Ralph Jr., born in 1951. After serving close to three years as pastor of First Baptist Church in Ryan, Oklahoma, Ralph and his young family moved to Ada, Oklahoma, where he began as pastor of another Trinity Baptist. The year was 1957. He and Beverly welcomed their second son, Ryan, in 1959. From Trinity, he moved his family to two additional Oklahoma churches, First Southern for a year, and finally to Olivet Baptist in Oklahoma City in 1964.
In 1990, after more than 25 years at Olivet, Ralph retired. He had left a legacy dedicated to the mission of the local church, and through the years he served on a variety of boards from the Baptist Hospital to the Baptist Foundation, from OBU to the Pastor’s Conference. Since his retirement, Ralph has continued his tireless service to the church, serving in more than 77 churches throughout Oklahoma as an interim pastor, evangelist, and Bible study teacher. He and Beverly are also proud grandparents of two grandchildren.