FULTON, NY – It is with great sorrow that the family of Rafael “Ralph” Pietro Firenze, 80, of Fulton announces his passing on Sunday April 14, 2013, at the VA Medical Center in Syracuse, after a long fight and courageous battle with heart disease.
He was born in Fulton on July 26, 1932, to Pietro and Mary (Ditoro) Firenze.
Ralph was a loving, honest, intelligent and humble man.
He made an impression on everyone he met with his kindness.
He was a graduate of Fulton High School and attended C.C.B.I. in Syracuse.
After completing his course work he joined the United States Air Force.
While in the Air Force, Ralph attended North Dakota School of Science in Wahpeton, North Dakota, majoring in clerical services.
He was stationed abroad in Korea and Japan as well as several air bases across the states.
He especially enjoyed his time spent in Japan and Spokane, Washington.
Ralph served in the United States Air Force from October 1951 until his honorable discharge in January of 1958 with the rank of Staff Sergeant.
Ralph enjoyed gardening and woodworking, but more than anything, spending time with his family.
He was predeceased by his loving daughter, Charlene and her husband, Brad, in 1979; and by his beloved granddaughter, Alison, in 1994.
Ralph had been a widower since 1998 when he lost his wife and the love of his life, Ruth, whom he married on September 10, 1949.
He was also predeceased by his brother, Paul; and sister, Josephine.
He is survived by his daughter, Dawn and her companion, Anthony; his son, Gary and his companion, Joan; two brothers, Louis (Bonnie) and Peter; two sisters, Carmella and Christine (Gary); his grandsons, Gary Lee (Maria), William (Cylest, Brianna), Kevin (Stacy) and Geoffrey (Ashley); his granddaughters, Christy (Joseph), Beth Rene (Robert) and Morgan Raye; his great-grandsons, Austin, Alex, Ethan, Saverio, Mason and Dante; his great-granddaughters, Giuliana, Kylee, Gabriella, Mackenzie, Giana and Alexandria; his nephew, Geno; his ex-daughter-in-law, Trudy; and many nieces, nephews and great friends.
For the past several weeks, Ralph had been living on the eighth floor of the VA Hospital in Syracuse, where he was staying in the Hospice wing of the Community Living Center.
Ralph was very fond of the employees at both the Syracuse and Oswego VA and had developed friendships with many of the staff there.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff for their competent and loving care.
We are forever grateful to you all, for taking care of our loving father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend, Ralph.
Calling hours for friends and family will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Foster Funeral Home, 910 Fay St., Fulton.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 9:30 a.m. on Friday at Holy Trinity Church, corner of Rochester and South Third streets, Fulton.
A luncheon for family and friends will be held at noon at Holy Trinity Church.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the VA Community Center, 800 Irving Avenue, eighth floor, Syracuse, NY 13210.
Foster Funeral Home, Inc.