Sturgeon Bay, WI---Ralph, 70, died in his sleep of heart disease in the early hours of the morning of Wednesday, September 19, 2018.
Ralph was born on October 1, 1947, to Ralph Sr. and Ann Martha (Shamray) Valatka in Detroit, Michigan. Both stalwart pillars of the Lithuanian community, Ralph’s dad was the colorful announcer of a Detroit radio show called “Lithuanian Melodies.” He also was known to have played a rather fine violin. Ralph’s mom was a fabulous cook upon returning home from her fulltime job as office manager of a major insurance firm. So, it isn’t any wonder that Ralph was surely blessed with his own brand of music, humor and, of course cooking! The family also foraged for wild mushrooms, which Ralph joyfully incorporated into his adult life.
After graduating from the University of Detroit Mercy College, he married his college sweetheart Donna, and they brought two children into the world, Danielle and Brandon.
Though there’s much to tell about Ralph’s many lifetime careers of professionally acting, writing, directing and producing, here’s a sample of a few of his favorite roles and accomplishments:
-The Metropolitan Opera-Detroit Children’s Choir
- “Guys and Dolls”-the role of “Nicely, Nicely.”-Detroit
-Gonzo Theatre-In Nashville and later, Detroit (About Ralph, a friend, Bess, reminisced: “Laughter is on the healthy side of the contagious scale and Ralph knew how to set it off! In the 80’s, when edgy urban improv was the mark of a happening city, Ralph became a member of Nashville’s Gonzo Theatre. Not only did he bloom as a comedian, he grew a successful Gonzo North comedy troupe in Detroit---to spread the laughs!”)
-Der Rosenhavalier-with German opera star, Kurt Moll-Lyric Opera-Chicago
-Shady Nook Creative-produced and voiced the first handicap-equipped, guided trail (Fern Trail) with his wife, Jordyce, for writer, Julie Hein-Frank-Now at Newport State Park-Door County, WI.
Ralph is survived by his second wife and partner, Jordyce Bryntesen, his two children, Danielle (Joe) La Pointe, Brandon (Lisa) Valatka; his grandkids, Anthony, Andrew and Ken; his dear aunt, Francie; many cousins and their spouses; and numerous step-kids and step-grandkids. Also, his best buddy, Daniel Miller; and friend, Hal Doyle and his special compatriots at the Sturgeon Bay YMCA’s Hearty Conditioning classes.
Donations may be made in Ralph’s name to the ACLU, the Nation Magazine or the Door County Land Trust (Sturgeon Bay Canal Property).
Services will be private.
Safe Journey sweet fellow…