Resident of Los Altos
March 29, 1939 - May 27, 2018
Ralph passed away peacefully from cancer Sunday evening at home with his loving family by his side. His dedication to community service, Stanford, his work ethic and moral compass, wit, intellect, warmth, and mentorship endeared him to family and friends and touched many lives.
Following the family’s move from New Jersey in 1946, Ralph grew up in Corona, a small town in Southern California where Ralph excelled in academics, art and athletics, graduating with honors from Corona High School in 1957 on the cusp of the Space Race. With the nation’s attention focused on Sputnik, math, science and exploration of space, Ralph graduated from Stanford University in Mechanical Engineering and worked at Jet Propulsion Laboratories on the Mariner Satellite.
He returned to Stanford earning his Masters and Doctorate in Aeronautics and Astronautics, working for the Aerospace Corporation and, in 1973, returning to the Bay Area to join Lockheed’s New Products Division at the Lockheed Research Labs. He served in management positions as a program manager, system engineering manager and satellite engineering design director. Career highlights included directing a large array of engineers and designing control systems for satellites, including the Hubble Space Telescope. As Director of Research for the Lockheed Technology Center, he established a new technical track for scientists, to retain and engage top scientific talent in the industry. Throughout his career, Ralph went beyond the technical demands of his work to inspire and mentor the next generation, building a network for emerging engineers both within the Labs and among high school students.
Following a 35-year career in the aerospace industry, Ralph became a full-time community volunteer. Always dedicated to youth development, he enthusiastically coached and refereed his children’s soccer and basketball teams, and in retirement, continued avid support for the World Affairs Young Ambassadors program providing scholarships while donating to the Los Altos Stage Company’s program with the Los Altos Youth Theatre.
Aligned with his passion for world events and his belief that peace and understanding can be built through education, Ralph served for 13 years as Chair of the Peninsula Chapter of the World Affairs Council, guiding his board in offering free, monthly educational presentations on timely international topics to promote better world understanding.
A strong supporter of the arts, Ralph served 14 years on the board of the Los Altos Stage Company for the Bus Barn Theatre, especially enjoying play selection. Among his favorites was the musical, “Man of La Mancha”, perhaps identifying with Don Quixote’s pursuit of the impossible dream. He is a long-time member of the Los Altos-Mountain View League of Women Voters (LWV) and served on a LWV Arms Control Task Force and as an organizer and recruiter of resource speakers for the Great Decisions Discussion Groups series.
Ralph and his wife Carol traveled extensively in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Ralph was a life-long supporter of Stanford University with a particular interest in the Freeman Spogli Institute—Stanford’s primary forum for interdisciplinary research on key international issues and challenges—and Stanford athletics, especially football and basketball.
Ralph was preceded in death by his parents, Arnold and Katie Kuiper—Dutch immigrants—and sisters Alice DeJong, Katherine Oury Christman and Frieda Beaudin and brother-in-law Richard Draeger. He is survived by Carol, his wife of 54 years, and their treasured children Jennifer, Heather (Loren Rauch) and Skot Kuiper, two adored grandchildren Milo and Cordelia; devoted nieces Christy Beaudin, JudyAnn Dutcher, Linda Rogers (Joel) and Brenda Shively; nephews Blaine Beaudin; Alan (Debra) DeJong; Paul (Kathy) Oury; Dan (Kristin), Doug (Nancy), Russ (Casie), Rick (Theresa) Draeger and grand nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, June 16 at 1 p.m. at the Los Altos Youth Center (LACY), 1 North San Antonio Road, Los Altos, CA 94022. In lieu of flowers, to recognize Ralph’s lifetime of service, please donate to the Ralph Kuiper Fund for Youth Education at the World Affairs Council, https://www.worldaffairs.org/support/donate, to the Los Altos Stage Company, http://losaltosstage.org/support/ or to your favorite charity.