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Ralph E. Balchunas


Ralph E. Balchunas, passed away on February 21, 2019 at the Hershey Medical Center after battling heart disease for many years. Ralph was born in Harrisburg on August 25, 1945, son of the late Albert and Betty (Bower) Balchunas. He was preceded in death by his sister, Jeanne M. Decker.

Ralph is survived by his devoted wife Kay and son Ralph Jr. Ralph and Kay would have celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary on March 5. The couple resided in a house that Ralph built 40 years ago in Bainbridge, Pa. He was a master carpenter and built beautiful furniture. After retiring from Bethlehem Steel, he owned and operated a home repair business. He enjoyed traveling with his wife to national parks, Bluegrass Festivals and enjoyed classic county music.

The joy of his life was the times he shared with his son, Ralph Jr., hunting and fishing. Together they hand crafted goose decoys and were well known for their expertise in waterfowl hunting. They also enjoyed snowmobiling in Pennsylvania and New York.

Ralph graduated from Central Dauphin High School in 1963, served in the U.S. Navy, was a past president of the Elizabethtown Optimist Club and enjoyed shooting events at the Hummelstown Gun Club. Activities in his shop/barn were full of fun where friendly times and friendships grew. Teaching his nephew, Terry how to “fish” was a favorite pastime.

Since 2017, after a life-threatening event, he began a renewed friendship with Jesus and attended weekly Bible studies with Jere, Pat, and Zimmie.

Ralph especially enjoyed the times he spent with his great nieces and nephews. They all loved to drive Uncle Ralph’s golf cart and truck. He was endeared to all of them, Mason, Cadie, Mallory, Allison, Holly, John, and Jake.

He is also survived by two sisters, Linda Brillinger of Paxtang and Alane Balchunas of Marysville; three brothers, Matthew Balchunas of Marysville, Stephen Balchunas of Harrisburg, and estranged Chris Balchunas of Wapwallopen; and estranged adopted granddaughter, Nicole and her young son Brody. When Nicole was very young and two “Ralphs” came into her life, she called Ralph Sr. the “Daddy Ralph.” He cherished each and every moment he shared with her.

A memorial service for Ralph will be held in the near future.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

Arrangements are being made by the Murphy Funeral Home, McSherrystown, Pa.