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Ralph Joseph Keechler
September 8, 1925 ~ January 18, 2023 (age 97) 97 Years Old
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A lifelong resident of Sonoma, Ralph “Bud” Keechler passed away peacefully surrounded by his family Wednesday, January 18, 2023. He was 97.
He was born to Lucy and Joseph Keechler at Burndale Hospital on Sept. 8, 1925.
A Veteran of World War II, he was a member of the 75th Infantry Army Division. He fought in snow-covered fox holes in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium, Luxembourg during the Battle of the Bulge. He was honorably discharged in April 1946.
He always delighted his grandkids with historical stories about numerous businesses and buildings around his hometown before there were any stoplights. After the war, he worked in the construction industry and fondly remembers plastering many homes in the Sonoma Valley before beginning his 30-year career at Mare Island Shipyard working on Naval Ships and Submarines. He retired as an Insulation Supervisor in 1990. He liked to stay busy, so he worked for a few more years after his retirement delivering cars all over California for the local Chevrolet dealership.
He was a volunteer with Sonoma Fire Department for more than 69 years. During that time, he advanced through the ranks to the position of Division Chief. His response to fire calls slowed down in the past 10 years, but he never actually retired. He loved the camaraderie and enjoyed organizing the Volunteer Association’s annual Crab Feed. He was a mentor to many.
His many hobbies included hunting, fishing and just about anything involving his kids and grandkids. He could always be found on the sidelines of his grandchildren’s sporting events. He grew a beautiful backyard garden and loved to share zucchini, tomatoes and green beans with his neighbors.
After he retired, he was either fishing at Eagle Lake with his wife Barbara, or hunting, talking about hunting or watching the hunting channel. Sharing hunting trips with his son, son-in-law and grandsons were some of his happiest times. In later years, he enjoyed guided hunting trips – once on horseback – and he was so proud after taking a trophy bull elk out of Idaho at the age of 90. For months, he carried around a “brag book” with pictures from that trip and would show them to everyone he’d see.
He was a member of the Native Sons of the Golden West, Sonoma Parlor No. 111 for 79 years.
He was preceded in death by the love of his life, Barbara Keechler April 3, 2003. He is survived by his three children – Christine (Matt) Peterson, Joseph (Susan) Keechler and Karen (Dennis) Martin, as well as six grandchildren – Erik (Shannon) Peterson, Kelly (Ryan) Tulay, Sam and Jackson Keechler and Drake and Dean Martin, as well as four great-grandchildren – Brooklyn and Charlie Peterson and Kade and Raya Tulay. His nephew and niece, Gary and Linda Zepponi, also survive him.
The family would like to extend heartfelt thanks to the dedicated staff at Cogir on Napa Road for the love and respect they showed Ralph during the short time he lived there.
Arrangements are under the direction of Duggan's Mission Chapel. Inurnment was held at St. Francis Solano Cemetery.
Donations in Ralph’s honor can be made to the Sonoma Volunteer Firefighters’ Association, 630 2nd Street West, Sonoma CA 95476 or via sonomavolunteerfirefighters.org
A memorial and reception will be held March 31, 2023 at 3:30pm at Vintage House Senior Center, 264 First Street East, Sonoma, CA 95476.