Ralph Krasney

Birth: August 4, 1905 in Kiev, Ukraine

Death: February 2, 1986 (age 80) in Vancouver, B.C.

Rabbi Victor Hillel Reinstein gave the following eulogy at his funeral:
Funeral: February 5, 1986; 26 Shevat 5746
Yahrzeit: 24 Shevat

Ralph Krasney was a “mensch”, a fin, warm, caring, loving jovial human being. His twinkling eyes and warm innocent smile could warm the coldest heart and the coldest day. He brought the warmth of a bit of sun to any circle that he entered. Completely without pretense, Ralph was one of those for whom barriers among people were there simply to be bridged. His friends spanned the generations. All who met him enjoyed him. When he made the move from Victoria to be with Judy and Marv and Charles and Michele in Vancouver, their friends became his friends. He had a way of making people feel comfortable and so touched people reached out to him. When friends of Judy and Marvin would invite them to their homes or to a party they would, since the move to Vancouver, inevitably say “now don’t forget your father.” Could there be any more beautiful testimony to the nature of this quiet humble man?

Perhaps more beautiful is indeed the testimony of his own family. He was a father, and along with Mary, they were parents out of whose love Judy reflects “I can’t imagine not getting along with parents; we were so close to them.” And so too for their sons-in-law, Marvin and Saul were as sons. How beautiful that Marvin could say with such feeling, “I got the perfect pair of in-laws.” His children and his grandchildren were the apples of his eye. He was always concerned and interested in what they were doing. He encouraged them with simple gifts and simple words of love. Grandpa showed no favoritism. Aaron, Charles, Jeffrey and Michelle were all his favorites.

Yes, Michelle, it is so clear how he loved you. He had his room in your house, “Grandpa’s room”, even when he lived in Victoria. Bu when he came and filled that room all the time, he could look at the pictures you brought from school and share the quiet moments of every day with you. Charles, the love for your grandpa was so clear in the prayer you said for him as he was going off in the ambulance one of those many times, a prayer that touched your parents so deeply. You and Michaelle went downstairs when the ambulance came. Later you said to your Dad, “I don’t know what to do while downstairs.” “What did you do?”, your Dad asked, and you said “I said a prayer to God in English, but I don’t know the Hebrew.” It is as your Dad said, “I’m sure God will hear.” I am also sure Charles, and finally the answer to that prayer is the abiding love from which your prayer came, a love that will abide the years and make your grandpa always close to you through the wonderful gift of memory.

There was pain in Ralph’s life too, the immeasurable sorrow of Donna May’s death. He often walked from his house on Haultain Street to spend some quiet moments at the cemetery and later to visit Mary there as well. He had also hoped to someday see his two brothers and his father again in Russia, but that was never to be. In the last year and a half, however, with the help of Judy and Marv, he was able to speak with one brother while his father, though unable to speak was present. His father died last year in Russia at 105 years old.

Ralph was sent away from Russia with another family by his parents when he was nine or ten years old to protect him from the coming storms. He never saw them again. He spent his teens in Europe and then a cousin in Kansas City sponsored him and brought him there. From there he went to Chicago where he worked in a grocery and liquor store. And most importantly, it was in Chicago that e met Mary – “Bunny” – in the late ’20’s. She was on a visit from England to see her sister. In 1932 Ralph and Bunny were married and that visit became a beautiful life partnership of 50 years.

They raised Judy and Donna May in Chicago and then, seeking a change, they moved to Victoria in 1953 to be near Ralph’s brother Jack and sister-in-law Ethel. At first Ralph and Jack worked together to get him started and then Jack moved to another store and Ralph and Bunny took over Palmer’s Stove Store at 571 Johnson Street. It was one of those old time second hand stores for tools, furniture, appliances, and what-not. Ralph knew just where everything was, regardless of where it was buried in the store. He enjoyed his work, he enjoyed the people who came to the store. And that store 571 Johnson and Ralph himself are immortalized in the book Between Friends, a photo-essay of Americans and Canadians along the border. Ralph was so proud of the photo, taken by a local photographer, Nina Raginsky. Upon hearing of his death, she spoke of him as “One of those good people in that old-fashioned way.” And so he was.

Ralph loved life in Victoria. He enjoyed and was so grateful to his many friends here, in the Jewish community, and in the larger city. So many of his friendships began in this synagogue, a place through which he became part of the community and from which we now bid him shalom.

There is a void now, Judy, as you say. As he was such a strong anchor for you in life, so dependable and always able to sit down and talk, so may his memory and undying love continue to be an anchor for you in the continuing voyage of your life, and in the lives of each of you who loved him so deeply, and for all of us Ralph’s Hebrew name is R’fael – “God heals” So may God heal , and grant that his memory be, as we know it shall, a blessing for all who knew him.

Gravesite Details: Row B – Plot 18

In Loving Memory
פּ״נ (Here lies)

1909 – 1983
Hebrew name: Mem-resh-yad b. Yosef

1905 – 1986
Hebrew Name: Rafael b. Hirshel
ת נ צ ב ה
abbreviation for Biblical quote: “May their soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life.”

Family Members:

  • Spouse
    • Mari (Mary) “Bunny” Marks Krasney (1905–1983)
  • Children
    • Judy Krasney
    • Donna May Krasney Landsberger (1939-1980)
  • Siblings
    • Jack Krasney
    • two brothers who stayed in Russia
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