Rev. Ralph M. McGuire was a cherished son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and, above all, a child of God. He faithfully served his Lord both in and beyond the church, with a passion to assist those in need. Ralph’s witty, charismatic and tenacious personality deeply enriched the lives of those around him.
One of eight children, Ralph was born to Bert C. and Celestine Fennell McGuire in Maplewood, Missouri on July 1, 1915. At the time, the United States was becoming more industrial and Americans were experiencing change, from assembly line manufacturing to women’s suffrage, from the temperance movement to fair labor laws affecting children. The coming years of war and economic depression also shaped the citizenry, and already at a young age, Ralph’s heart was drawn to the physical and spiritual needs of others.
Raised in a Christian home, Ralph’s parents prayed continually for their children and particularly for their service to the Lord. His godly mother implored the Master of her life to set her sons apart for the work of the ministry. At age seven, Ralph purposed in his heart to memorize certain scriptures in preparation for the ministry.
Very sadly, Ralph’s mother contracted pneumonia and died when he was just ten years old. Out of necessity, Ralph and his siblings entered St. Louis Protestant Orphans Home. With the loss of a loved one and a stable home environment, Ralph became adrift from his faith and the commitment he had made to God. It was a dark time for him for several years.
Then at age 18, Ralph was awakened to God’s love through a gospel tract and an invitation to an old-fashioned revival service. That divine intervention was life changing for Ralph, as he described it in his own words:
“It was in this humble gospel mission that God spoke to my heart, and convicted me of my sins. Night after night I poured out my heart at the mourner’s bench, until one glorious night I felt a surge of joy springing up within me. This only increased my hunger for God’s fullness. After my baptism in water by immersion, in the name of Jesus Christ, I sought God most earnestly for one week. Then one Sunday night, the Holy Ghost came upon me and a bright light as bright as the sun, shined from heaven into my face. It would be difficult for the skeptics to explain where this light came from in the dimly lighted gospel mission. My whole life was changed completely that night. “All things became new.”
Ralph’s experience of a loving and faithful God put him on a lifelong journey to serve his Lord and Savior. He was ordained to ministry in St. Louis, Missouri with the United Pentecostal Church International at the age of 24. That same year, he and his new bride, the lovely Loretta Becher, embarked on a mission with God for all the years of their married life.
Upon his ordination in 1938, Ralph and Loretta were led to Genesee, Wisconsin in Waukesha County and established Genesee Tabernacle. They labored together in ministry, growing in their faith through God’s goodness. Over the years, God blessed them even more with six children, five boys and one girl. Their family life was rich with Ralph’s storytelling, singing, playing guitar, gardening, fishing and passion for what mattered most to God.
Some of Ralph’s fervor was turned to poetry, and in the 40 years that he pastored the church in Genesee, he authored four books. In fact, his principal ministry was writing, and his books, along with his personal vibrancy, provided inspiration to many.
From Genesee, Ralph and Loretta resided in Mattoon and then Marion, Wisconsin. When he retired from parish work, Ralph remained engaged in ministry for another four years at the Waukesha County Jail. Then he started a home missionary church at Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin before retiring again in 1990.
Ralph found that, though in retirement, he was not discharged from Christian service, so he soldiered on with the work of the Lord. Even at the complex where he lived in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, he prayed for and anointed the sick. He ministered to his caregivers, sharing God’s love and encouraging them. By his words and actions, Ralph expressed his desire to “keep busy till Jesus comes.”
Ralph went home to his Lord and Savior on Thursday, August 20, 2009. He died in Waukesha, Wisconsin at the age of 94.
Loved of God and cherished by family and friends, Ralph was an inspiration to everyone he met, and he leaves a legacy unlike any other.
Rev. Ralph M. McGuire was preceded in death in 2008 by his adored wife of 70 years, Loretta (Becher); son, Michael; and siblings Al, Paul, Bob, Tom, and Celestine (Sutton). Ralph will be deeply missed by his beloved children Don of Onalaska, WI, Roger (Margaret) of Inver Grove Heights, MN, Beverly (Scott) Andrae of Pewaukee, WI, Ralph (Mary) of Ridgeland, WI, and Pat (Caroline) of Eau Claire, WI; his cherished 17 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, 1 great-great-granddaughter; dear sisters Jeanette Storie and Edith Fanger, both of St. Louis, MO; and many loved friends.
Visitation is scheduled for Monday, August 24, 2009 at Parkway Apostolic Church 10940 S. Nicholson Road Oak Creek, WI 53154 from 4:00 PM until 5:45 PM. The funeral service begins at 6:00 PM. Interment 10:00 AM, Tuesday, August 25 at Highland Memorial Park 14875 W. Greenfield Ave, New Berlin, WI 53151. In lieu of flowers, memorials in Pastor McGuire’s name may be made to the American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org or 1-800-DIABETES. Suminski Family Funeral Home served the McGuire family at Niemann/Suminski, 414-744-5156. To leave a memory, archive a photo or to sign the guestbook, please visit www.lifestorynet.com.