Ralph "Bongo"'s Story

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Ralph "Bongo" Lee Baer, 85, formerly of Kokomo, passed away at 3:45 a.m. Wednesday, June 7, 2017, at Evergreen Retirement Community in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was born May 6, 1932, in Kokomo to Charles B. and Wilma L. (Robinson) Baer. On Dec. 28, 1950, he married Jeannie A. Henger at Grace United Methodist Church in Kokomo and she survives.
Ralph graduated from Kokomo High School in 1950 and was known for his athletic prowess and skill in basketball and especially on the football field, where he earned the nickname "Bongo Baer." He went on to graduate from Indiana Business College and worked at Continental Steel as a sales manager for 31 years before retiring. He then continued his career as a manufacturer's representative for several years, traveling the Midwest. Ralph loved the city of Kokomo and serving its people and the community. Ralph served the City of Kokomo and Howard County as a public official for many years, spending 14 years as a member of the Kokomo Common Council (6th District), nine years on the Kokomo Plan Commission and two years on the Kokomo Board of Public Works and Safety. He also served on the Howard County Governmental Coordinating Council, the Howard County Solid Waste, Recycling Board of Directors, the Kokomo Housing Authority Board of Directors, the St. Joseph Hospital Advisory Board, the Community Howard Regional Hospital Foundation Board, The United Way Board and the YMCA Membership Board.
Ralph served on the City Revolving Loan Fund Board, The City Redevelopment Board and the Howard County Housing Authority Board. He was a member of the Kokomo Country Club, The Kokomo YMCA and Grace United Methodist Church.
Ralph was a loving husband and devoted father and will be remembered as a true gentleman. He had a keen sense of humor and caring heart. Ralph lived his life to the fullest, with a positive attitude and big smile. He was truly "Humble and Kind."
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his only child, daughter, Melanie A. (Timothy) Pierce, Cincinnati; stepgranddaughters, Erin (Michael) Siragusa and Jackie (Ryan) Phillips, Cincinnati; stepgreat-grandsons, Grayson Kaylor, Colton Phillips and Quinn Siragusa, all of Cincinnati; sister-in-law, Donna Baer, Kokomo; nephew, Scott Baer, Kokomo; and niece, Suzanne (John) Johnson, Michigan.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Charles Baer "Junior"; and niece, Becky Baer.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Friday, June 23, 2017, at Grace United Methodist Church, 219 W. Mulberry St., with Pastor Larry Newburg officiating. There will be visitation in the church parlor one hour prior to the service. Private entombment will take place in Kokomo Memorial Park Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made in Ralph's memory to Grace United Methodist Church or the YMCA. Shirley & Stout Funeral Homes & Crematory, Kokomo, have been entrusted with arrangements. Messages of condolence may be expressed online at www.shirleyandstout.com.
Published on June 18, 2017
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