TRAVERSE CITY — Ralph Eugene Kahrs, 80, passed away in his home on Monday, Sept. 23, with family at his side. Ralph was born in Suttons Bay on Dec. 27, 1932, to George and Gertrude (Olson) Kahrs.
While living on the family farm in East Leland, he graduated from Leland High School in 1951.
Ralph worked at Joe’s garage in Leland until 1952 when he joined the U.S. Army, serving the country as a Sergeant in the 853rd Communications Reconnaissance Detachment out of Heidelberg, Germany.
In 1955 Ralph returned to East Leland, where he met Shirley Kiessel, whom he married on July 3, 1958.
He continued his education at Valparaiso Technical Institute in Indiana and worked for IBM in Chicago as a customer engineer for 12 years. He and Shirley had a desire to return to northern Michigan with their growing family. In 1967 they moved to Traverse City, where Ralph was employed as a computer programmer by Belfour Stulen (later known as CAP). When the firm relocated to Chicago Ralph elected to remain in Traverse City and worked for Cone Drive for several years before retiring in 1995.
Ralph enjoyed the outdoors and adventure. His hobbies included photography, skiing (he skied the Alps while in the service), golf, basketball and motorsports. Upon retirement he enjoyed golfing more often, and at the age of 65 he used his ice skating skills and took up rollerblading.
He and Shirley enjoyed traveling on their motorcycle. They took many trips with their motorcycle partners, Wayne and Monique Kahrs, touring most states east of the Mississippi. They also enjoyed many trips in their Mazda Miata and outings with the Tip O’ the Mitt Miata club.
Ralph and Shirley celebrated 55 years of marriage this past summer.
Ralph is survived by his wife, Shirley; his children, Kathy (Randy) Frankfurth, of Byron Center, Steve (Peggy) Kahrs, of Canton, Paul (Kristin) Kahrs, of Oakland Township, and Dayna (Dave) VanderVeer, of Jenison; and son-in-law, Kevin Heaney, of South Lyon; grandchildren, Nick (Rebecca) Frankfurth, Spencer Frankfurth, Cody and Lauren Kahrs, Karmen, Paul and Kevin Kahrs, Mallory and Lindsay Heaney, and Katelynn and Andrew VanderVeer; great-grandchildren, Jayden and Avery Frankfurth; brother, James Kahrs; and sister, Lenore Hagstrom.
He was preceded in death by his daughter, Susan; his parents, George and Gertrude; his brother, George; and his in-laws, Andy and Martha Kiessel.
The family would like to extend sincere thanks to Dr. Patrick Freidli, Dr. Kevin Clayton, the Heart Failure Clinic and Munson Home Care.
Visitation will be held at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Interlochen from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. A memorial service will be held at the church on Saturday, Sept. 28, at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Redeemer Lutheran Church - Debt Fund, US 31 at Rogers Road, Interlochen, MI 49643 and/or Munson Hospice, 1105 Sixth Street, PO Box 184, Traverse City, MI 49684.
Please visit www.reynolds-jonkhoff.com to share your memories of Ralph.