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Gretchen Pierce Ralph

September 20, 2019
Lake Placid News

Gretchen Pierce Ralph, 91, died Thursday, Sept. 12 at Elderwood of Uihlein at Lake Placid.

She was born in and attended schools in Clinton, 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 Mothers Club at Pebble Hill School, Everson Museum Docent program, the Junior League and the Syracuse Symphony Guild.

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She served as president of the Junior League and 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 Gov. Pataki's Tourism Advisory Committee.

She was the registered lobbyist in Washington, D.C., for 1,400 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 to 1998 as executive assistant to Sen. 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, and John Ralph (Julie Ralph) of St Louis, Missouri. Her daughter Kristen P. Ralph of Syracuse predeceased her.

She is also survived by her grandchildren Christopher Ralph of Stuart, Florida, Kevin Ralph of Baltimore, Maryland, Sarah Maandag and Simon Maandag, both of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, her step-granddaughter Kristin Aldrich of Saranac Lake, 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 took place from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17 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 St., Fayetteville, NY 13066. Family and friends can also share their memories at



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