Ralph Lawrence DeGayner, Jr. - Age 87, of Swartz Creek, Michigan died April 16, 2023 peacefully at his residence with loved ones. In accordance with Ralph’s wishes cremation will take place.
Ralph was born July 31,1935 in Iron Mountain, Michigan the son of Ralph Lawrence and Marie (Seeger) DeGayner, Sr. The family lived near Channing, Michigan and Ralph grew up with a lake and forest to play in.
In his early years he worked building T.V. towers in the western part of the Upper Peninsula in Michigan bringing television reception there for the first time. He moved to Flint, Michigan in 1953. He started an egg delivery business, was in real estate and then the Fluffy White Bleach Company which lead to the Swimming Pool Business. He was the founder of the Flint Pool and Patio Co. (now Lifestyles ). He co-owned the company with his brothers Clayton and Felton until he retired in 1987. After retiring, his winters were spent in Key Largo, Florida enjoying fishing, boating, and in 2002 for 20 years volunteering with the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge. He and brother Clayton had worked for two decades to help the endangered Key Largo woodrat regain its population in the subtropical forests of north Key Largo. They received many awards and recognitions for their efforts including the Florida Chapter of the Wildlife Society’s Citizen Conservation award for 2021. Ralph also received The Presidents Volunteer Service Award. The love of nature, especially birds, water fowl and animals since early childhood led Ralph to volunteer at the Florida Keys Bird Rehabilitation Center in the early 80’s and at the Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park for many years as needed. He was involved in tracking and catching invasive Burmese Pythons, one that was 17 feet long. One of his greatest joys was sharing nature with others and teaching young people, especially his grandchildren and great-grandchildren who he loved so deeply. During the summers Ralph could be found in his workshop in Michigan restoring antique engines of all kinds, going to antique engine and tractor shows and enjoying his other collections. He shared this hobby with his good friend Jeff Page.
Ralph was a loving husband, father, grandfather & great grandfather and had many friends in Michigan and Florida.
He is survived by his loving wife of 42 years, Jacquelyn Ann (Matthews) DeGayner; children, Lori Marie DeGayner, Tarianne (Thomas) Holtslander, Pam Elaine DeGayner, Katherine Ann DeGayner, Lisa Ann DeGayner, and Steven Lawrence DeGayner; grandchildren Brian Thomas (Katie) Holtslander, Jenny Lynn (Evan) Owens and Garrison Davis; Great-Grandchildren Justice Jenny Holtslander, Noah Alexander Owens, Asa Daniel Owens and Judah Caleb Owens; siblings Hazel Mae Dault, Clayton E. (Barb) DeGayner and Alden O. (Sue) DeGayner; sisters-in-Law Mary K. DeGayner and Lonette DeGayner; many nieces and nephews.
Lost family members Parents Marie and Ralph DeGayner Sr, brothers Felton and Eugene DeGayner the II
Special daughter: Lynn and Jeff Bednar.
A celebration of Life will be at a later date.
The family would like to thank all the friends and family that helped in the last few weeks of Ralph Life. Thanks to Gentiva Hospice and Alternative Elderly Care, especially Ashley.
If inclined, donations could be made to the Florida Keys Wildlife Society, Friends of Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges, P.O. Box 431840, Big Pine Key, FL 33043 or online floridakeyswildlifesociety.org. Please include In Memory of Ralph DeGayner/Key Largo Woodrat Program.
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