Ralph Edwin Shank, 95, of Kings Grant in Martinsville, passed away on Tuesday, April 30, 2013. Born on October 7, 1917, in Buchanan, Virginia, he was the son of the late Elmer and Louise Shank. He was preceded in death by his wife, Jean Fishburn Shank, and his sisters Margaret Delong Sprinkle and Betty Jean Jones, and a grandson, Walker Edwin Shank.
He is survived by his sons Ralph Shank Jr. (Sandra) of Martinsville and Randall Shank (Dawn) of Walkertown, Va.; daughters, Susan Clement (Chuck) of Chesterfield, Va., and Ann Hankins (Stephen) of O’ Fallon, IL.; and grandchildren, Erin Poston (AJ), Jonathan Shank, Dr. Katherine Clement (Tim), Ashley Frey (Ryan), Jeremy Clement, Michael Hankins (Rachael), Daniel Hankins, Beth Hankins (Jason) and Taylor Shank; and four great-grandchildren, Elise Poston, Madelyn Poston, Tristan Frey and Lucas Hankins.
Ralph was a graduate of the University of Illinois and Columbia University. He taught at Jefferson High School in Roanoke before he was called up during World War II. He served as the band director for the 116th Infantry, 29th Division Army Band, participating in the Normandy invasion and later directing the U.S. Army Band that marched into Berlin, Germany, after its fall. After the war he came to Martinsville and started the city’s instrumental music program. He later served as principal of Druid Hills Elementary School and Martinsville High School. He was also the choir director at the First Presbyterian Church in Martinsville for many years. Ralph was an accomplished musician, educator, woodworker, gardener, outdoorsman and community servant. He was devoted to and loved his family very much. He was known for his upbeat attitude and cheerful personality and will be missed by the many who knew him.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 5, at the First Presbyterian Church in Martinsville. A graveside service will be held on Monday, May 6, at 11 a.m. in Fairview Cemetery in Buchanan. The family will receive friends from 3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, at Kings Grant retirement community. Memorials may be made to the Music Department at Martinsville High School, 351 Commonwealth Blvd., Martinsville, Va., 24112 or the Penn-Shank Memorial Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 4662, Martinsville, VA.
McKee-Stone Funeral Home is serving the family.