Cover photo for Gretchen Ralph's Obituary
Gretchen Ralph Profile Photo
1928 Gretchen 2019

Gretchen Ralph

July 14, 1928 — September 12, 2019

Gretchen Pierce Ralph Obituary

Gretchen was born in and attended schools in Clinton, NY, the daughter of Dutch Immigrants Margaret and Edward Piersma. She attended Syracuse University and married John Robert Ralph in 1948, who predeceased her in 2002.

She was active in a church circle at Dewitt Community Church, the Auxiliary to Crouse Hospital, President of the Mother’s Club at Pebble Hill School, Everson Museum Docent program, the Junior League and the Syracuse Symphony Guild.

She served as President of the Junior League, President of the Syracuse Symphony Corporate Board, and in 1979 was named to the New York State Arts Council.

She received the Post Standard Woman of Achievement in the Arts and the Cultural Resources Council Award for Service to the Arts.

She was active in politics and was the Central New York Finance Chair of the Reagan Campaign and served on Governor Pataki’s Tourism Advisory Committee.

She was the registered lobbyist in Washington, DC for 1400 symphony orchestras as Executive Director of the National Committee for Symphony Orchestra support. She acted as liaison to the Congress and toured the country addressing Orchestra Boards.

She served from 1982-1998 as Executive Assistant to Senator Alfonse D’Amato in the Syracuse office. She acted as the Senator’s liaison to local elected officials, business leaders and public interest groups. In 1998, she received a distinguished Leadership Award from the New York State Regional Planning Board for her dedication to the quality of Life in Central New York.

She leaves behind her beloved children Karen Maandag-Ralph (Sieg Maandag) of Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Chandler M. Ralph (David Aldrich) of Lake Placid, NY; and John Ralph (Julie Ralph) of St Louis, MO. Her daughter, Kristen P. Ralph of Syracuse, NY predeceased her.

She is also survived by her grandchildren Christopher Ralph of Stuart, Florida, Kevin Ralph of Baltimore, MD, Sarah Maandag and Simon Maandag both of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, her step- granddaughter Kristin Aldrich of Saranac Lake, NY, her step-great granddaughter Jada Meadows, and great grandchildren Arjuna and Danjil Landkroom.

She was a hero to her children and to all who knew her.

Funeral arrangements are in care of the Fortune-Keough Funeral Home in Saranac Lake. A celebration of life will take place on Tuesday September 17, 2019 from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM at the Fortune Keough Funeral Home in Saranac Lake. Donations in her memory can be made to the Saranac Lake Volunteer Rescue Squad, P. O. Box 431, Saranac Lake, NY 12983 or the Fayetteville Free Library, 300 Orchard Street, Fayetteville, NY 13066. Family and friends can also share their memories at
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gretchen Ralph, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

3:00 - 6:00 pm (Eastern time)

Fortune-Keough Funeral Home, Inc.

20 Church Street, Saranac Lake, NY 12983

A Celebration of Gretchen's life

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