Ralph Vernon Fondell
Ralph V. Fondell died peacefully in the presence of his children at Legend Senior Living in Tulsa, OK on June 10, 2019 at the age of 95.
Ralph Vernon Fondell was born on October 9, 1923 in Maxwell Township, rural Dawson, MN.
He was the oldest of three children born to Clarence and Selma (Erlandson) Fondell and grew up on the family farm near Dawson. Ralph was baptized, confirmed and came to faith at Dawson Covenant Church. He graduated from Dawson High School in 1941 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Upon entry, Ralph was given the Eddy Test and his excellence in mathematics and electrical science secured his future in electrical engineering.
Ralph was wounded on Guam during WWII when he was run over by a U.S. Transport Vehicle. After recovery, he was honorably discharged. Ralph attended North Park College in Chicago, IL, graduating with an associate’s degree in 1948.
While at North Park College, Ralph began dating Gertrude Franklin. They were married on September 3, 1948 at Dawson Covenant Church where Gertrude’s father Nathaniel Franklin was serving as Pastor. Following North Park College, Ralph completed his B.S. in Electrical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. Ralph and Gert moved to Chicago where Ralph attended North Park Theological Seminary and the couple prepared for a life of mission work. After seminary, Ralph and Gert moved to West Virginia and Kentucky as Ralph helped to build and operate Christian radio stations in Appalachia.
In 1958, Ralph and Gert were commissioned as missionaries by the Evangelical Covenant Church to Nome, Alaska. Ralph spent much of 1958 building KICY Radio in Nome along with fellow missionaries. In the summer of 1959, shortly after Alaska’s statehood, they arrived with their young family in Nome. Ralph served consecutively as Engineer, Program Manager and General Manager at KICY until 1984. Ralph’s clear, distinctive voice was well known throughout Western Alaska. As a sign off every night at KICY, Ralph referred to KICY as the “Voice of the Arctic” and until his death his children claimed that as his nickname.
Ralph loved Alaska. He and Gert made their home in Nome and then Eagle River and Chugiak until 2018. Ralph served as Chairman of Covenant Churches in Nome and Eagle River and was a constant beacon of Christ’s love to all who entered the doors of their home, church or place of business. Ralph’s passion for the Lord and radio was augmented by his love of fishing. He spent many hours on the banks of the Niukluk, Sinuk, Kougarok, Nome, Solomon and Kuzitrin Rivers and was as patient a fisherman as he was a husband and father. In retirement Ralph and Gert enjoyed trips to Europe, China, Greece, the Holy Land and the Maritime Provinces with annual trips to visit their children and grandchildren.
Ralph was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 70 years, Gertrude on Valentine’s Day 2019, his eldest son Daniel (Luanne) and an infant son. Ralph was also preceded in death by his parents Clarence and Selma, brother Paul (Eileen) Fondell, sister Alice (Earl) Baker and saints too numerous to mention.
He is survived by daughters Kathryn (James) Congdon of Manley, AK and Rebecca (Wayne) Carlson of Algonquin, IL; sons Stephen (Lynne) Fondell of Jenks, OK and John (TrucLien) Fondell of Eagle River, AK; and daughter-in-law Luanne Fondell of Dawson, MN.
He was a loving grandfather to 16 grandchildren: Douglas (Alana) Congdon; Katalla (Mark) Fairbanks; Kiana Markham; Jeffrey (Maureen) Congdon; Michael (Meghan) Congdon; Nathaniel (Ellen) Fondell; Elisabeth Fondell (Benjamin Tokheim); Jonathan Fondell; Kathleen (Adam) Merrill; Paul (Shannon) Carlson; Tamara Carlson; Jessica (Taylor) Maxwell; Nikki Fondell; Aimee (Justin) Klinefelter; Alex & Brelien Fondell and great-grandfather to 18 great-grandchildren: Aubrey, Dillon & Cole Congdon, Tamara (Jeremy) Jenkins, Jared Fairbanks & Jaxton Fairbanks, Merrianne & Carl Markham, Milo & Alyssa Congdon, Everly, Oskar and Arlo Fondell; Logan & Eli Carlson; Judah, Abel & Ezra Maxwell and two great-great grandchildren: Jace & Reece Jenkins. He is also survived by sister-in-law Eileen (Paul) Fondell, brother-in-law Guido (Ann) Kauls and numerous loving nieces and nephews from both the Fondell and Franklin extended families.
A memorial service for Ralph and Gertrude will be held at 11 a.m., August 31, 2019 at Dawson Covenant Church, rural Dawson, MN. A celebratory lunch will follow prior to their burial. Ralph and Gert were together in life and remain together eternally. May those who come behind them find them faithful.
The family requests that memorials be directed to KICY Radio, PO Box 820, Nome AK 99762.
Peace to his memory.