Obituary: Ralph E. VanderNaillen Jr. ’51
14Feb14 – Ralph Edward (Van) Vander Naillen, Jr., devoted husband and father, witty and brilliant gentleman, was born in Oakland, CA on February 21, 1930 and was raised in the San Francisco Bay area. Upon graduation from Lowell High School in June 1947, he entered the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. He graduated and was commissioned as an Ensign in the U. S. Navy in June 1951. He then reported to flight training in Pensacola, FL and won his wings at NAS Corpus Christi in December 1952. From there, he was assigned to a squadron flying Martin Marlin P5M patrol bombers out of San Diego, CA. Following that, he was assigned to the Naval Academy as an instructor in Seamanship and Navigation.
After a three-year tour at Annapolis, Ralph resigned his regular commission, joined the Naval Reserve, and moved to Nashville, TN where he was a Plant Engineer with promotions leading to Vice President of the Nashville Bridge Company. Concurrently he flew C-54 transport aircraft in the Naval Air Reserves and was promoted to Captain, U.S. Naval Reserves. He retired after a 30 year naval career.
In 1972, Ralph joined B&M Towing in Houston, TX. B&M was bought by Cargo Carriers Inc. of Minneapolis, Minnesota and he relocated to Minneapolis in 1976. Ralph became President of Cargo Carriers and elected to take early retirement in 1986 at which time he and Mary Catharine moved to Rockport, TX. During his business career he was active in the American Waterways Operators, Inc. and became its Chairman of the Board in 1980.
A Rockport resident for 28 years, Ralph served as President of the Rockport Country Club and spent ten years with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. He successfully ran for a seat on the Aransas County Navigation District Board in 1995 and was re-elected in 1997, and elected Chairman at that time. He also enjoyed volunteering at Rockport-Fulton Good Samaritans and was a member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.
Ralph died peacefully at home on February12, 2014 from complications of Parkinson’s disease.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Mary Catharine Woolwine Vander Naillen; his brother, Peter Vander Naillen and wife Bridget of Oakland, CA; daughters, Catey Carter of Houston, and Vicky Davis and husband Maclin of Nashville, TN; son, Randy Vander Naillen and wife Kathy; his grandchildren, Ted Vander Naillen, Park Carter and fiancée Louise Turner, John Carter and Claire Carter deRoode and husband David, all of Houston; his sister-in-law, Suzanne B. Woolwine and his nephew, Skip Woolwine and wife Trish, all of Nashville; his niece, Chris Bettis and husband Holt of Dallas; and his caregiver, Julie Covington.
Ralph will be greatly missed and remembered for his kindness to those around him, his love of his family and his positive outlook in the face of adversity. Well done, Captain.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Ralph’s name may be made to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 412 N. Live Oak St., Rockport, TX 78382; or the Rockport-Fulton Good Samaritans, Inc., 507 S. Ann St., Rockport, TX 78382.
A visitation will be held on February 15th at 2 p.m., with a Memorial service to follow at 3 p.m., at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Rockport, TX.
Charlie Marshall Funeral Home, (361) 758-3221.
Published in The Tennessean on Feb. 14, 2014