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Ralph Clarence Cisco passed away peacefully on January 24, 2017 just a few weeks after celebrating his 88th birthday.
Born in La Mesa, California on January 7, 1929, he was the youngest of three sons born to Jack and Gertrude Mae Cisco. The family operated a dairy near Del Mar and Ralph grew up helping the family run the dairy, enjoying the Pacific Ocean and working with his father in an excavation business. He graduated from Grosmont High School in 1947. Soon after, he moved to Colorado where he worked for his uncles as a wrangler and hunting guide on their dude ranch at Woods Lake high in the Rockies. He loved working with horses and felt at home in the mountains. He tried his hand at rodeo riding saddle bronc and bareback for a time. Ralph was introduced to skiing near Aspen - before it was a resort. For the next fifty years, he would enjoy this passion finding both peace and excitement while gliding over the snow. He skied at more than a dozen ski areas throughout the mountain west.
During the Korean War, Ralph served in the US Army and was stationed at the Tooele Army Depot. He worked as a cook and sliced his finger severely one day preparing meals. The lovely nurse who treated him that day would become his wife a short time later. Ralph and Barbara Jean Pendleton were married February 2, 1952. They were together constantly for 65 years until Ralph's passing. Their only son, Gregory Ralph, was born in Salt Lake on December 7, 1952.
After an honorable discharge from the Army, the young family split their time between San Diego and the dude ranch in Colorado. Ralph decided to attend college and pursue a degree in forestry. This career would enable him to enjoy the outdoors and working with people - his two passions in life. Thanks to the GI bill, use of Barbara's parents' house in Logan and working three side jobs, Ralph graduated from Utah State University in 1959 with a degree in Forestry.
Ralph began his career with the US Forest Service in Ogden, Utah. Soon, he transferred to Sawtooth Valley, Idaho where he would work for ten years as District Ranger. Days at the Fourth of July Creek Ranger Station included overseeing the staff, tending to horses and mules and checking up on various loggers, miners, ranchers, tourists and stock grazing allotments. Ralph was a natural communicator and was always at ease visiting with the Basque sheep herders even though he did not speak Spanish. He loved to the eat lamb chops, eggs and big bread served by the herders from their sheep wagons. He hosted many pack trips and "show-me" trips with government officials including Chief of the Forest Service, congressional delegates and Secretary of Agriculture. Eventually, it was determined a national park would not be established in the Sawtooths. In 1972, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area was created - thanks in many ways to Ralph's hard work and dedication.
Weekends in Sawtooth Valley saw Ralph, Barbara and Greg hiking and fishing in the Sawtooth and White Cloud mountains. Ralph enjoyed being camp cook. His legendary cowboy coffee and Dutch oven chicken recipes, along with a love of cooking over a fire, are still being enjoyed by his descendants to this day. He was an avid hunter and fisherman. Most of all, he always enjoyed meeting people - telling stories and helping everyone with their needs and experiences.
After leaving Sawtooth Valley, Ralph worked several administrative jobs on the Fishlake and Toiyabe National Forests. He next transferred back to San Diego as Supervisor of the Cleveland NF. His office was on the fifth floor of the Federal Building - a far cry from the saddle and his beloved horse Skipper back in the mountains of Idaho. He embraced the challenge of adapting to the "new" Forest Service - one more focused on political correctness than on multiple-use of natural resources. He welcomed the challenge of dealing with various political entities such as Orange and San Diego County Commissioners, the Sierra Club and so many people. He later transferred to Lake Tahoe to serve as Supervisor. He really enjoyed getting to know and work with the Owner and management of Heavenly Valley Ski Area. His 30 year career with the US Forest Service would close with his retirement in 1987.
After retiring, Ralph and Barbara returned to the Wood River Valley and built a beautiful log home. This home provided a base for their many friends and family members to visit and enjoy various outdoor activities including skiing, fishing, horseback riding and home cooked meals. Ralph soon accepted a job as the Chairman of Blaine County Planning and Zoning to oversee development in the County. This demanding job required all of Ralph's best abilities in dealing with people while looking out for the public's best interest. He dealt with developers, realtors, property owners and county commissioners. In this role, he won both praise and criticism. Given his ability to see both sides of any issue, he would become known as Reasonable Ralph.
Due to the pressure and rigors of his job in Blaine County, Ralph again retired. He and Barbara moved to the Bitterroot Valley near Darby, MT. Once again, back in the mountains, they would host friends and families enjoying more of the outdoors. Eventually growing tired of winter in the mountains, they moved to Hagerman, Idaho. They acquired a lovely home with a waterfall on Riley Creek and a boat dock in their backyard. While in Hagerman, Ralph served as President of the Hagerman Valley Historical Society. Barbara still lives in this home.
Once asked about is greatest accomplishment, he responded "the number of people I have helped develop to their fullest potential". When asked what he would have done differently, he quoted his old friend Sandy Brooks, a packer from Sawtooth Valley, who Ralph had asked the same question … "Not a damn thing"! He was a kind, gentle man who loved a good story and enhanced the lives of everyone he met.
Ralph was preceded in death by his parents and brothers Jim and Chuck. He is survived by his loving wife Barbara, son Greg (Moira), grandsons Christian (Kathy) and Aaron (Katie) and two great granddaughters Kaycee and Claire (Aaron and Katie). He was laid to rest in Logan, Utah near members of Barbara's ancestral family. A celebration of Ralph's life will be held in Hagerman in the spring. In lieu of flowers, donations in his name can be made to the Hagerman Valley Historical Society at PO Box 86 Hagerman, ID 83332 or hagermanmuseum.com.
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