Lawrence R. “Larry” Ralston, 86, of Decatur, passed away Saturday, January 21, 2017.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 A.M. Thursday, January 26 2017 at Holy Family Catholic Church, 500 W. St. Mary St., Decatur, MI. Friends may visit with the family from 4 P.M. until 7 P.M. on Wednesday, January 25, 2017, Newell Chapel, 83313 M51, Decatur. Memorials may be made to Amateur Speed Skating Union Foundation, Holy Family Catholic Church, or Webster Memorial Library, Decatur.
Larry was born December 3, 1930 to Lloyd and Mary (Mae Hunt) Ralston. In September of 1953 he married his beloved Edna and they began their family. He retired from the Chicago Public school system after a 37 year career as a teacher, coach, stadium director, and administrator.
During his teaching career, Larry became a recognized official with the Illinois High School Association in the sports of baseball, football, and wrestling. He was also a referee for exhibition games played by various park district football teams during halftime of Bear and Cardinal games at Wrigley Field and Comisky Park. A chief starter for the Chicago Tribune Silver Skate Derbies and numerous National and North American Championships, he was the trainer for the rink managers and ice personnel when the Chicago Parks District installed portable rinks around the city. After his move to Decatur in 1990 he began conducting 3-day coaching education seminars in various major cities from the Military Academy at West Point to Anchorage Alaska.
Larry had a 66-year affiliation with the sport of speed skating in the roles of competitor, coach, manager, official, writer, clinician, and administrator. He founded the Stehman Skating Club in 1956 and served as Secretary/Treasurer of the Amateur Speed Skating Association of Illinois from 1963 – 1972. He also served as Executive Secretary/Treasurer of the Amateur Speed Skating Union Foundation from 2000–2008. In 1976 he was appointed to the Gold Medal Advisory Board by the Ice Skating Institute of America to research and write a book prior to the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, NY. In the late summer of 1980, Larry was sent to Marquette, MI and the campus of Northern Michigan University to help lay the groundwork for the U.S. Olympic Education Center and eventual home of the U.S. Short Track Speed Skating Team. He was elected to the Speed Skating Hall of Fame in 1984.
During the Gerald Ford administration he was appointed to the President’s Advisory Council of Olympic Sports and was cited by the International Olympic Committee President for his contributions to the International Olympic movement and understanding among nations. Additionally, Larry was a feature writer for 3 publications; Recreational Ice Skating Magazine, Canadian Racer, and Racing Blade. He authored “Beginning Speed Skating”, a primer for coaches and newcomers to the sport.
In 2000 Larry was appointed to the Board of Directors for Lakeview Community Hospital, Paw Paw, MI and served in that capacity until the hospital was sold in 2007. He was also a Charter Member (1992) and past president of the Decatur Optimist Club and the founder on the R.O.M.E.O. (retired old men eating out) Club of Decatur. Larry earned a reputation as a skilled negotiator who often worked behind the scenes with little or no fanfare or recognition in order to advance the goals and objectives of the organization. He will be missed by all fortunate enough to know him.
Larry is survived by his wife Edna; daughters, Jean Wojtyla and Carol Zillmer; grandchildren, Robert and Carl Wojtyla and Shannon Zillmer; and great-grandchildren Evan and Avery Wojtyla. He was preceded in death by his parents.
Date: Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Time: 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Date: Thursday, January 26, 2017
Time: 11:00 am
Holy Family Catholic Church
Memorials may be made to Amateur Speed Skating Union Foundation, Holy Family Catholic Church, or Webster Memorial Library, Decatur.