WAUSAU, Wis. - Ralph Lorenzo Paoli, Jr, 88, of Wausau, Wis., passed peacefully into God's hands on September 2, 2013, at his home in Wausau, Wis.
Ralph was born in Hancock, on October 16, 1924, son of Raffaello and Ida (Nutini) Paoli.
He attended Hancock High School where he played football and ran track. He was class President in his junior and senior years. He attended Michigan Technological University and Marquette University before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force.
He married his sweetheart, Mary Ann Le Page in Houghton, on February 22, 1944, where they immediately traveled to Texas, California and New Mexico for training. One of his most memorable military experiences was a recent trip to Washington, D.C. on the Never Forgotten Honor Flight in September, 2012. World War II and other veterans of foreign wars visited the memorials erected in their honor, many for the first time.
In 1945, he started working in the family-owned business, Cohodas-Paoli in Houghton and worked there until he was promoted to manager of Cohodas-Paoli in Ashland, Wis., in 1955. In 1973 he moved to Wausau as manager of Wisconsin Distributing until he retired.
Ralph was a beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He loved family gatherings at their cabin on Feely Lake in Mercer. There he enjoyed teaching three generations how to boat and fish. A lifetime of memories were created in those wonderful times. He spent many years supporting his son, Stephen in racing on asphalt tracks around Wisconsin and Michigan.
He loved the outdoors where golfing, fishing and boating on Lake Superior were his favorites. He especially looked forward to his Canadian fishing trips with his good friends in Ashland and Wausau. One of his most memorable Canadian fishing trips was when he had the honor of meeting Nelson Mandella.
Ralph was a member of St. Anne's Catholic Church, The American Legion, The Elks Club and the Italian Men's Club of Wausau. His passion was flying his Piper airplane when he was a member of the Civil Air Patrol Search and Rescue Team in Ashland.
Ralph is preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Louis Paoli; a sister, Louise Guidotti and his two sons, Stephen and Paul Paoli.
Ralph is survived by his beloved wife of 68 years; Mary Ann of Wausau; three daughters, Suzanne (Mark) Shepard of Wayland, Mass., Therese (Dick) Lee of Farmington Hills, Mich., and Mary (Marcel) Fruneaux of Natick, Mass.; two sons, Ralph (Vicky) of Wausau and Michael (Kathy) of Holmen, Wis. and 19 grandchildren; Cija, Shane, Brian, Mark, Gina, Jason, Jeno, Ralphie, Tony, Ben, Jon, Monica, Heidi, Mario, Marco, Marissa, Shawna, Sydney and Stephen. Ralph also is survived by 24 great-grand- children, sister-in-laws, brother-in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and lifelong fishing buddy, Tom Woods.
Visitation service will be held in the Church of St. Anne, 700 W. Bridge Street, Wausau, Wisconsin on September 13th at 9:30 a.m. with Mass following at 11:30 a.m. Reverend Alan Burkhardt will be presiding.
Spring burial will be in the Forest Hill Cemetery, Houghton, Mich. Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home, 1302 Sixth St., Wausau is in charge of the arrangements.
Memorial donations may be made to the Never Forgotten Honor Flight, PO Box 5056, Wausau, WI, 54402-5056.
Condolences may be left in Ralph's online guestbook at petersonkraemer.com.
The family wishes to extend their gratitude to Father Steve Brice for his comforting visits and spiritual prayers, St. Anne's Catholic Church, Ministry Home Care, especially Bonnie, Justin, Ashley and Dawn, Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home and special thanks to Kim for her loving care and concern.
Ralph enriched the lives of everyone that he touched and they were drawn to his charismatic personality. His smile, sense of humor and kindness will be missed by everyone.
Online condolences may be expressed at petersonkraemer.com.