Ralph Painter

"It is not how he died that made him a hero, it is how he lived."

The community of Rainier and all of Columbia County mourns the loss of a beloved husband and father, Ralph Painter.

Ralph passed away Jan. 5, 2011, leaving behind the love of his life, Amy. Ralph also left children Julie (Brian) Heuer, Angie (Danny) Kneeland, Jeremy (Angela) Howell, Jennifer Painter, Ryan (Misty) Painter, Riley Painter and 12 grandchildren.

Also surviving him is his mother, Kathy Painter, and siblings Gloria (Chuck) Elkinton, Alan (Mashelle) Painter and Manual Painter.

Ralph was born July 17, 1955, the day Disneyland opened. He was born to Ralph and Kathy Painter in Sacramento, Calif.

The family then moved in the '60s to St. Helens, where Ralph attended St. Helens schools and subsequently graduated from St. Helens High School in 1974. From there, he earned his associate's degree from Clackamas Community College.

Professionally, Ralph's lifelong desire was a career in law enforcement.

His career began in 1983 by joining the St. Helens Police Reserves. He then joined the police department in the City of Rainier in 1988. Ralph was a patrolman until 1999, when he was promoted to sergeant. His final promotion came in 2006 with his advancement to chief of police.

During Ralph's career as a civil servant, he also held a seat on the Rainier City Council.

Outside of civics, Ralph was also a skilled carpenter. Throughout his life he built and remodeled many homes.

Ralph loved music, sports and the outdoors. His love for music led him to play the drums in a band and for many years at the Columbia City Foursquare Church.

In high school at St. Helens he was President of the Letterman's Club and a member of the cross country and track teams, where he was all league and most valuable runner his senior year.

He enjoyed baseball and football, cheering for the Yankees and Cowboys. He regularly hunted deer, elk and ducks.

His greatest love, though, was camping with his wife Amy and youngest son, Riley. Most camping trips grew into get-togethers with family and friends.

Ralph loved attending Riley's school and sport functions. He and his family enjoyed special times, making annual trips to Disneyland.

Whether professionally or personally, Ralph always had a positive attitude, which he shared with all he came into contact. He was a great inspiration to the entire town, young and old alike.

From noon to 6 p.m. on Jan. 13, a visitation will be at Rainier City Hall.

Services will be held on Jan. 14, 1 p.m. at the University of Portland Chiles Center and on Jan. 15, 10 a.m. at Rainier High School.

In lieu of flowers, a fund has been set up at Bank of America, care of Ralph Painter, Rainier Chief of Police Memorial Fund.

Arrangements are by Groulx Family Mortuary.

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