IN MEMORIAM: Ralph Plimpton

With the recent death of Ralph Plimpton, The Academy has lost a friend, active participant, former Board President, and proud supporter of The Academy and lifelong learning in general. ralph-plimpton-1

Ralph’s allegiance to The Academy was a testament to lifelong learning as seen here, in an excerpt from a Denver Post article from 2010:

“Following his retirement as owner of a successful consulting business, Ralph Plimpton found himself in the same unchartered waters that many seniors navigate when they leave the workforce.

As chance would have it, Ralph picked up and read an Academy of Life Long Learning bookmark and that made all the difference in the world. ‘A course titled, ‘The New Science of Happiness,’ caught my eye and so I signed up for it even though it was half over,’ Plimpton said. ‘This was the beginning of a new life – one that my wife says is the best thing that has ever happened to me.'”

Ralph took 38 classes at The Academy between 2005 and 2016.  This term he was enrolled in The Law and the Arc of the Moral Universe and It’s the Economy, Stupid. Through the years he taught about many topics including climate change, economics, global issues, cyber power, and culture.  The latter was his favorite subject to teach and economics was his favorite subject to study.

The Academy is forever thankful to Ralph for his friendship with Jerry Bruni.  They both wanted to spread economic literacy and the Bruni Foundation has given an annual gift to the Academy for its educational opportunities in economics. 

Ralph participated in several weekly coffee groups in Denver, and started one on Coronado Island where he and his wife stayed for several winter months each year.  It was always issues that he wanted to talk about.  His wife Fran had a habit of clipping small articles from the newspaper and tucking them in her purse so they would remember to discuss them at dinner. Discussion group member John Slocumb noted that Ralph asked intelligent questions, was very organized, searched for additional facts, and displayed sensitivity.

Sally Kneser recalls, “I took Ralph’s The World is Flatcourse in 2006 using Thomas Friedman’s book. Ralph provided thought-provoking questions and made certain that everyone had a chance to speak. All the discussions were lively because we didn’t all agree with each other, but Ralph ensured that the issues and our reasons were explored in a respectful manner.  He honored all opinions.  Through the years I often praised him as a master facilitator.”

Professionally, Ralph served as a manager and Vice President of Human Resources with Arco and Amoco until the early 1980’s. He retired in 2003 but turned around and founded a consulting practice in outplacement and search. 

In retirement Ralph was a Renaissance Man who enjoyed sharing his knowledge with others.

Ralph and his wife Fran have a home in Highlands Ranch.