Ralph Charles Earl, 71

Ralph Charles Earl, 71, of Northport passed away Saturday, June 16, 2018, at his home with his loving family at his side.

Ralph was born March 10, 1947, in Plainwell, the son of Lloyd and Olive (Knapp) Earl. On May, 19, 2001, he married his love, Laurie (Miller) Grougan-Earl who survives.

Ralph was known as being a kind and gentle man, who was devoted to helping others. Following in the footsteps of his father, Ralph served in the Navy during the Vietnam War aboard the USS Boxer LPH-4 as well as stateside, before returning to Michigan to serve his community. Ralph was very proud of the three generations of United States Navy men in his family: his father Lloyd, himself, and his son Joe Earl.

Ralph was a Kalamazoo bus driver, a part-time firefighter, a part-time Prairieville Township -Pine Lake Fire Department’s Fire Chief, and later was the Leelanau Township Fire and Rescue’s Fire Chief.  He was also a B.A.T.A. Bus Driver before retiring in 2014. 

He was proud of his time spent serving his community, and openly showed his admiration for the police and fire and rescue teams.

Stemming from his time in the military, Ralph was quite the history buff. He enjoyed reading and learning about world history and past wars.  Alongside his studies, he enjoyed historical documentaries and classic movies; his favorite actor was John Wayne. He also enjoyed the more recent Marvel hero-type movies!

Most of Ralph’s family live downstate or out of state, but anytime they could get together, call, or Facebook each other, they did.

Ralph loved and was proud of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  Ralph also loved visiting his father and mother-in-law, Don and Jenny Miller in Kalkaska County, many times visiting the in-laws along with their grown and married (5) Miller daughters and their families and children.

Ralph is survived by his loving wife of 17 years, Laurie; his children, Joe Earl and Brenda (Ken) Lapham; his step-son Andrew (Irina) Grougan; his grandchildren, Aaron (Catie) Lapham, Dylon Lapham, Blake Earl, Sabrina Earl, Ryan (Rachael) Lauderdale; his great-grandchildren, Lily, Colton, Noah, and Jayden; his sister Dawn (John) Perry; his niece and nephew, Crystal (James) Bennett and Michael Perry; his grand-nephews, James and Jordan Bennet; the Miller Family, the Folisi Family, Zografos Family, and Vicky Windish.

He was preceded in death by his loving parents.

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