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The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

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October 6, 2022

8/12/2022 5:29:00 AM
Ralph J. Kelpsas

Ralph J. Kelpsas, of Antigo, went to be with his wife Marty on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022 under the care of his family and LeRoyer Hospice. He was 90 years old. He was born Aug. 29, 1931, in Chicago, son of the late Bruno and Emily (Mikutis) Kelpsas.

He married Martha Powell on Feb. 15, 1958 in Chicago. She preceded him in death on October 12, 2013. Ralph Kelpsas was a graduate of Morton High School in Chicago.

He operated Kelpsas Grocery in Cicero, Ill. The couple then made the move to Wisconsin, first residing in Tomahawk and then in Rhinelander where he owned and operated a laundry business. When the Kelpsas family moved to Antigo, Ralph worked for Amron. Following his retirement from Amron, he worked for Merit Gear.

He was a devoted member of Christ Central Church. He lived his life faithfully, beginning each morning with a couple hours of prayer.

Ralph served in the U.S. Air Force on Feb. 6, 1950 and served during the Korean War. He was honorably discharged on Feb. 11, 1952. He was a member of the American Legion in White Lake, Post 0524. He also took the Honor Flight in 2014.

He was an active volunteer for Operation Compassion Food Pantry. He liked having fun, bowling, and dancing with Martha. Their favorite dances were the jitterbug and polka. Many knew Ralph for being a hard worker, beginning to work at the age of 10. His grandchildren knew him as the "Candyman" for always having a root beer barrel candy on hand for them. He enjoyed softball which he played until his late 70s and exercising which he did until his late 80s. He was an avid Chicago sports fan. Ralph was someone everyone loved. He and Martha always had open doors to care for anyone in need.

Survivors include two daughters, Linda Ojutkangas of Antigo, and Diana (Jamie) Downing of Antigo; sister, Judy Erickson of Oklahoma; five grandchildren, Jennifer (Merlyn) Catron of Neenah, Jessica (Aaron) VanZeeland of Penn Laird, Va., Aimee (Josh) Miller of Beloit, Daniel James Kelpsas of Olympia, Wash., and Erica (Duane) Drews of Racine; five great-grandchildren, Cassidy Lucas, River VanZeeland, Caine Drews, Aiyana Drews, and Willow VanZeeland.

In addition to his parents and wife, he was preceded in death by three infant children, Maria, Ralph, and Daniel; sisters, Celeste Campbell and Irene Pietrowski; brothers, Donald Zillhart and Ronald Kelpsas.

A funeral service will take place at noon on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022 at Christ Central Church in Antigo, with Pastor Danny Pyeatt officiating. Those attending are encouraged to wear Cubs, Bears, and Bulls apparel in honor of Ralph.

Visitation will be from 10 a.m. until the time of services Saturday at the church. Burial will follow the service at Church on the Hill Cemetery in Elton.

Strasser-Roller Funeral Home is assisting the family. Friends may visit online at

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