October 18, 1932 - August 27, 2011
Ralph J. Temple, tireless voice for the disadvantaged, courageous civil rights advocate, beloved husband, father, and friend, passed away peacefully at his home near Ashland, Ore., on Saturday night, August 27, 2011. He lived his last day comforted by the touch of his cherished wife, Ann, and the voice of his son, Johnny. He basked in the love and attention of friends and family, including his grandchildren and adored daughter, Kathy; stepchildren, Cecily, Maude, Lucinda and Ben; and his wonderful daughter-in-law, Kara.
Ralph was a larger than life figurea major presence in some of the most dramatic historic events of his time. As a young boy in 1941, he fled with his mother from the terrors of the blitz in his native England and undertook a dangerous wartime voyage to America, shortly before his father was called into the Royal British Army.
He graduated from Miami Beach High School in 1951 and obtained a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1956. After a period of honorable service in the United States Army, Ralph quickly found his calling as a civil rights attorney, rising to the position of Legal Director of the Washington D.C. Chapter of the A.C.L.U. He continued to serve the A.C.L.U. in various capacities for the rest of his life.
Ralph was present at most of the landmark civil rights events of the last fifty years, including Martin Luther King's Million Man March. He saw and heard, in person, the famous I Have a Dream speech. He spoke and worked directly with Dr. King, Bela Abzug, and many other prominent figures. He argued cases in some of the highest courts in the land, served under or with Supreme Court justices and other legal luminaries.
Ralph was blessed with a phenomenal, compelling, and resonant voice, as well as a marvelous gift for written language. He wielded both of these formidable weapons throughout his life in the service of human rights and social justice, causes which even as a young boy he felt born to serve. Ralph never hesitated to actively oppose oppression or injustice whenever he saw it, but his forcefulness as a social warrior was tempered by an amazing, positive attitude toward conflict and argument. He saw impassioned argument as essential to the maintenance of a healthy democracy and to leading an enlightened, genuine life. To this end, he argued passionately but forgave his enemies easily, often finding ways to become friends with those who initially opposed him or even had unjustly or maliciously attacked him. Many times he defended the rights and liberties of people with whom he had nothing in common or for whom he felt personal antipathy.
Ralph Temple was also blessed with the power to sustain lifelong friendships even across great distances; in this he was a master. For his many surviving childhood friends and comrades of decades-long tenure, Ralph's departure is an extraordinarily deep loss.
One of his life's greatest blessings was his long and profoundly fulfilling relationship with Ann Macrory, to whom he was married from 1980 until his death. Ralph regarded Ann as the love of his life, and viewed her as a fellow social warrior whose legal career, remarkable achievements in social advocacy, and undefeatable spirit led him to perceive her as more than his match as a lawyer and human being, and to cherish her as a perfect mate.
Advocate Temple was a prolific and oft-published author, whose written work is virtually a diary/journal of the civil rights movement and the practice of law in the United States, over the entire last half century. His prose is profoundly amusing, deeply moving, and unique in tone and perspective. Ralph's amazing sense of humor and raconteur's gift for storytelling remained with him almost to the very end. His son, Johnny Temple, is collecting Ralph's huge output of professional and personal stories and articles for compilation and publication in the near future.
Ralph never really retired after leaving the practice of law. He moved from the East Coast to Ashland, Ore., in 1996 and was elected to the A.C.L.U. Board, where he continued his fight to protect free speech, and was a major force in the decision of the Ashland City Council to reject the use of tasers by police. He was involved in city, county, state, and national civic issues including jail policy, policing practices, free speech issues, voting oversight, and, in particular, causes affecting the homeless. In these and other areas he continued to make a huge difference in the lives of everyone in the community.
Ralph was Jewish, with a lifelong love and respect for Judaism and Jewish traditional culture. His spirituality was sophisticated, rooted in a deep sense of universal love, and deeply felt. Early in his life he became a devoted follower of Yogananda and up until the end of his life he meditated for an hour every day as an active and devoted member of the Self Realization Fellowship.
Ralph Temple is survived by his wife, Ann; his children, Johnny and Kathy; Johnny's wife, Kara; four wonderful stepchildren, Lucinda, Cecily, Maude and Ben and their cherished husbands/partners; two grandchildren; and six stepgrandchildren; plus beloved former stepson, Dr. Dicken Weatherby. He is preceded in death by his parents, Charles Temple and Sadie Levy Temple.
His remains will be buried in Scenic Hills Cemetery in Ashland, Ore., on Tuesday August 30, 2011, in a private ceremony.
Ralph will be remembered by his friends and colleagues as a powerful social warrior and gifted lawyer with an incredible mastery of his craft and attention to detail. He will also be lovingly recalled as a brilliant and passionate speaker and writer. His loved ones will remember him as a giant human being, irreplaceable, and achingly beautiful in spirit.
Composed by Paul Richards.