Merced attorney, civic leader Ralph Temple dies at 79
May 20, 1940 – Jan. 31, 2020
On Friday, Jan. 31, local attorney Ralph Sterling Temple Jr. permanently closed his private practice. When asked about his pending trial St. Peter replied, “We can’t seem to locate the defendant. He seems to have outwitted my colleagues, liberated a heavenly reserve of scotch, and organized a rather unruly skins match.”
Ralph Temple was born on May 20, 1940, in Niagara Falls, NY, to Elizabeth and Ralph Temple Sr. He spent his childhood with his older sister Betsy in Memphis and then back to Niagara Falls following his father’s assignments as a chemist for DuPont.
He graduated from Williams in 1962 and was poised for a career in business when he was arrested during a college road trip. Upon successfully defending himself, Mr. Temple decided to pursue a career in law. While technically enrolled at Hastings Law School, more often Ralph would be studying the fairways and greens of the Bay Area.
Much to the chagrin of his classmates, he graduated near the top of his class at Hastings and passed the California Bar on his first try, all while carefully maintaining a four handicap.
Ralph then enlisted in the Army and served his country from 1966 through 1969, including a year of active duty in Vietnam. In 1965 he married Jeanne Allard. The couple had daughter Katy and son Josh while living in Oakland (forever sentencing both of them to be Raiders fans), and then moved to Merced in 1971 where a couple years later they added their third child Mitch.
Ralph loved and served the city and community of Merced for the next forty-eight years of his life. He could be counted on to donate his time and talent to a variety of good causes throughout the city including Bloss Hospital, the successful campaign to bring a University of California campus to Merced where he served as a UC Merced Trustee and the Chair of the joint UC Merced & Merced County Office of Education LLC committee, and pro bono work for a large number of his children’s friends (who were all innocent).
In the middle of raising children, practicing law, and contributing as a citizen, was golf. It was his pastime, his joy, and his religion. He loved and honored the game, and immensely enjoyed the friendships he forged and shared on the course. He served as President of the Merced Country Club in 1982 and went on to become President of the Northern California Golf Association in 1998. During his time on the Board he was deeply involved in the development and founding of Poppy
Ridge Golf Course, and the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the NCGA. Later he was the President of the Cal Seniors Association.
Around that time he rekindled a relationship with his college sweetheart Carole Whitehill with whom he would delightfully spend the rest of his life. They traveled the world, they served their community together, and they organized countless family events in Merced, Pebble Beach, and Palm Desert.
Whether facing him in court, on the course, or at a cocktail party, it was wise to avoid the wrong side of Ralph Temple’s intellect and wit, and he could be very short tempered about old-fashion values like patriotism, civic duty, and good manners, especially when it came to stepping in his putting line.
He is survived by Carole, his sister Betsy, his niece Liz, his kids — Katy, Josh, and Mitch, their mom Jeanne, his daughter-in-law Liza, his grandchildren — Ruby, Estelle, Cole, and Julian, Carole’s kids — Bob, Ingrid, Wendy, and James, and their children — Chris, Connor, and Diego.
He was a patriot, a citizen, a loving partner, a damn fine father, and a hell of a golfer. He will be missed.
In lieu of flowers the family would appreciate donations to “Youth on Course,” the charitable junior golf program of the NCGA, and a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. Donations are tax deductible, and their Federal Tax ID Number is 94-3108575. Mailing address is 3200 Lopez Rd. Pebble Beach, Ca. 93953.