Ralph Bond Jr., 84, passed away on April 27, 2013. He will be remembered for his adventurous spirit, gentle nature, and common sense leadership.
Ralph was born in LaCrosse, Wisconsin on February 28, 1929 the only son of Merle Bandle and Ralph Bond Sr. The family moved to Billings, Montana. For a short time, Merle and Ralph Jr. lived at the Commercial Hotel in Billings with his grandparents Charles and Emma Bond. Ralph was raised by his mother, Merle and step-father William Durham and spent some years in Colstrip and on their farm in Absarokee, before moving back to Billings.
Ralph attended school in Billings and Colstrip, Montana. He graduated from Absarokee High School in 1947 and attended Rocky Mountain College from 1947 until 1949. In high school, Ralph played on the Absarokee Huskies basketball team. He began working at Continental Oil Company in 1949 as a member of the original “49ers” and helped with construction of the Billings refinery.
Ralph served his country in the US Navy, during the Korean conflict, from 1950 until May 1954. He was a member of the crew aboard the USS Bataan aircraft carrier and attained the rank of Electrician’s Mate 2. After his military service, Ralph returned to Continental Oil Refinery, where he worked until 1985 as a Pump Mechanic, Pump Mechanic Foreman, and later as Craft Supervisor, overseeing the mechanics, welders, plumbers and electrician crafts. While working at Conoco, he formed many long lasting friendships and earned the respect of his colleagues.
He served as the president of the local 2-470 Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers (OCAW) union for many years, helping to bring many benefits to local refinery workers. Ralph also served as the Chairman of the Yellowstone Democratic Party and advocated for working families. In 1968, he ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for the Montana State Legislature.
Ralph married Patricia Ann Hould on September 4, 1954 in Pasadena, California. They lived in Billings and raised their family of four children. Patricia died in 1973. An infant son, Thomas Anthony died in 1958.
In 1990 Ralph married Gail Gullard Fritz in West Yellowstone, Montana. They enjoyed many years at the Duck Creek ranch until Gail died in November 2010.
From an early age, Ralph enjoyed the great outdoors of Montana and Wyoming with his Uncle Dana and shared that joy with his children. Ralph and his family spent many vacation adventures in Red Lodge and the Beartooth Mountains, the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming, the Hebgen Lake house near West Yellowstone, snowmobiling, hunting, fishing, river rafting, boating, and cross-country skiing. During his young adult years, Ralph was a member of the Billings Mounted Quadrille and performed routines on horseback at rodeos, parades and other events.
He is survived by his children and grandchildren, Michael Bond (Robert) of Casper, Wyoming, Richard (Sheri) Bond of Billings, with children Lacie, Bailey, and Kooper, Margaret (Charles) of Corvalis, Oregon with children Ian and Aaron, and Brian (Susan) of Buffalo, Wyoming with children Terri (Sebastian) and Pamela. Ralph is also survived by three great grandchildren, Harli, Leah, and Harris and step-children Kerry (Roxanne), Cassidy (Gloria), and Shadd (LaVonne).
Visitation will be 5-7pm Wednesday, May 1st and services are scheduled for 1 pm, Thursday, May 2nd at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary. Interment with military honors will follow at Sunset Memorial Gardens. Memorials may be made to Saint Vincent Healthcare Foundation, PO Box 35200; Billings, MT 59107-5200. The family is grateful to the staff at St. Vincent Hospital and Eagle Cliff Manor for their care and kindness during Ralph’s last few weeks.