Ralph Wentworth: Reader, explorer, friend and good neighbor

Ralph Wentworth Adams. Photo: Courtesy family

Ralph Wentworth Adams III of Berkeley passed away Dec. 18, 2016 at Alta Bates Hospital with his wife Karen, his siblings and dear friends at his side.

Ralph was born Nov. 21, 1948 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, son of Adaline Reeves Adams and Ralph Wentworth Adams II. He grew up and went to school in nearby Ypsilanti with a large family of four sisters and one brother and nearby aunts, uncles and cousins to play with. He grew up to be a big bear of a man, a gentle giant, beautiful in body and spirit. He tried out and left behind sky diving and a Triumph Bonneville motorcycle.

Volunteering his services for his niece’s Girl Scout troop’s annual canoe trip, he caught the eye of another volunteer, Karen Klitz. The connection was immediate and they were rarely separated thereafter. Eventually Karen, a California girl, persuaded Ralph to give Berkeley a try and they headed west, opening a whole new world to him. A voracious reader and explorer, he took to the beauties and complexities of his adopted state, becoming a good friend, neighbor and citizen, active in his community and supporter of causes he and Karen believed in.

They bought an historic fixer-upper near the border of Berkeley and Oakland and spent decades restoring and updating it, as time and resources permitted. In the process, he became a prominent figure in the neighborhood where he became known as Mr. Ralph. He was beloved for his kindness. He loved people, always reaching out to help neighborhood kids blow up their bike tires, to provide transportation or to fix almost anything.

Through the years he and Karen hosted many of the family members he had left in Michigan, delighted to show them the amazing sights, and preparing wonderful crab feasts. As his grandnephew Quinn said, “He was nice and kind and loving and I will never forget that.”

Ralph was preceded in death by his parents and three cousins, Herb Adams and Julie Adams Lober of Michigan and Christie Ross of Simi Valley California. He is survived by his wife Karen, her children Robin Payne and Phoebe and Alan Tanabe of Ann Arbor, brother- and sister-in-law Bill and Helena Klitz of Berkeley, sister-in-law Kathryn Corbett of Eureka CA, Fred Klitz of Sausalito CA, siblings Adaline Adams (George Huszczo) of Marshall MI, Trudy Adams (Andrew Paczuski) of Ann Arbor, Teri (JT) Adams Abernathy, Patricia (Ted Lupina) Brogan of Schoolcraft MI and Sayre (Ann) Adams of Livonia MI; nieces and nephews Camille (John) Fleming of Eastsound WA, Jurek Huszczo of Edina MN, Emily, Stephanie, Susan, David and Stephen Brogan, all of Kalamazoo MI, Garrett Adams of Grand Rapids MI and Neal Adams of Livonia; and grand nieces and nephew, Anneke, Sofia and Quinn Fleming of Eastsound.

Also mourning his passing are many cousins, including Ralph Emerson (Ann) Adams of Louisville KY and Charles (Mary) Adams who played important roles in his life.

Memorial services will be held at a later date.