One thing we would never change in our lives, is to have had Ralph Abbruzzese as a husband, father, grandfather, and friend. Ralph Timothy Abbruzzese Sr. entered his eternal life in Heaven on April 18, 2020, at the age of 90. Ralph is preceded in death by the recent passing of his son, Robert (Bobby) Abbruzzese and his brother, Anthony (JuJu)Abbruzzese. Ralph is survived by his loving wife of 66 years, Bobbie (McGee) Abbruzzese; sons Ralph Jr. (Candy), James (Dede), John, and Joe (Mary); grandchildren Justin (Joanna), Marcus, Makenna, Delaney Abbruzzese, Ashley, Amanda, Laramie, Molli, and Johnny Jr. Abbruzzese, Jordan and Andrea Abbruzzese, Austin, Hunter, and Tanner Abbruzzese; brothers, John and Paul (Marci) Abbruzzese; brother-in-law, William (Esther) McGee and sister-in-law, Carol(McGee) Dipolito. Ralph also has 5 great grandchildren and many nieces, nephews, and cousins. Ralph was born on March 22, 1930 in Columbus, Ohio to the late Antonio Abbruzzese and Anne (Coletta) Williams. Growing up during the great depression, the family first settled in “Fly Town” near downtown Columbus and Victorian Village, followed by the Grandview area on Westwood Avenue. Ralph loved to play football, baseball, basketball, and most of all, golf. He learned to play at the Scioto Country Club where he was a caddie. While attending Central High School, he developed a passion for writing and journalism, taking those skills to the Citizen. He was a Youth Page Reporter there and honored as the Inaugural Best All-Around Reporter for the Citizen Youth Paper and taking first place for Best Sports Reporting. After graduating from Central, Ralph enrolled at The Ohio State University College of Journalism. But his country came calling in 1951 and Ralph was drafted into the United States Army Artillery Unit. He spent 13 months on the battle fields of the Korean War. He served his country honorably as Private 1st Class. His active tour of duty ended in 1953 and he served as an active reserve until 1956. Ralph married his sweetheart and love of his life, Bobbie McGee, on February 13, 1954 at St. Patrick’s Church in Columbus. With a family on the way, Ralph and Bobbie went on a journey like no other couple could have ever experienced. The highs and the lows were inevitable, but the love and devotion they had for each other and their family was nothing short of exceptional. With school on hold, Ralph took a job at F&R Lazarus as a sales associate. This turned into a 40 year “relationship” where “Ralph” was synonymous with “Lazarus”. Even though he did not pursue his career in journalism, he never lost his knack for being honest, creative, with a sense of humor, as that is how he lived his life. Ralph went through many promotions, beginning with Sales Associate to Stock Room Manager, to opening the “Lazarus at Northland Mall” which was significant in Columbus history, as a group manager-back to the Downtown Store as a department manager and buyer in the music department. We never met a person who was associated with Lazarus that had nothing but kind words and high praise for Ralph Abbruzzese. He was president of the 20 Year Club, received multiple “Associate of the Month” recognitions, served as President of the Activities Association, and was coordinator of many Lazarus company functions and fundraisers. A member of St. Anthony Parish in Columbus, Ralph was former president of the St. Anthony Men’s Club, was Chairman of Parish Council, and served as Athletic Director. He volunteered as a coach, driver, and fundraiser for the School and Parish. He loved his Baltimore Colts, Boston Celtics, Ohio State Football, and any sporting event that one of his five boys would be playing. He would cook out anything that would fit on the grill. That is where he discovered his own creation called the “Flat Italian,” a sandwich that became a favorite at any cookout, sporting event, or festival and would usually run out within an hour or so. Ralph never met a person he wouldn’t feed or offer a drink to. Whether it was buying hot chocolate for the St. Anthony football cheerleaders, or a soda for the nursing staff at Villa Angela when he was caring for his son Bob. He was always thinking of others. Being involved in his children’s lives was what he lived for, coaching all sports, heading up many of the youth leagues as St. Anthony Athletic Director, Forest Park Baseball Director, Forest Park and Woodward Park Basketball Program Director, and coordinator of the feeder youth programs to Northland High School Baseball Program, Ralph Abbruzzese was always there. Ralph was a fixture in Central Ohio at sporting events from pee-wee thru high school, college, and recreation leagues for many, many, years. He cherished his grandchildren, never turning down an opportunity to be with them. Whether it would be attending their school plays, recitals, or sporting events, you only had to look at his face to see the love for his grandkids. He learned how to “vacation” as a grandfather, while enjoying the beaches in Hilton Head and Marco Island and riding every ride with his grandchildren at Disney World, Sea World, Cedar Point, and Kings Island. We would all make a strong case to say, if you looked up the word “grandfather” in the dictionary, you would find Ralph Abbruzzese’ name. Most of all, Ralph loved Bobbi. If academy awards are given out in Heaven, Ralph and Bobbi would sweep all the categories. His love and devotion for Bobbi cannot be put into words, poems, or songs. Nothing was as true as Ralph and Bobbi as Husband and Wife. His love for her was so strong and powerful. We saw in his last moments, there really is a Heaven and Ralph proved it. His selflessness was second to none. He never asked for, said “what if”, or complained about anything. He lived his life only thinking of others and never of himself. Whenever you needed something, especially a smile, Ralph was there. A special thanks to Arlington Court Nursing Center and Staff, for their thoughtfulness, love, and care for Ralph and our family. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there will be a private ceremony for Ralph at Resurrection Cemetery in Lewis Center, Ohio.
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