Ralph Nagel — a beloved husband, father and grandfather, Navy veteran and longtime owner and operator of Valley Typewriter Company in Geneva — died Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018, at the Holmstad in Batavia. He was 96 years old.
The only son of William and Mabel (Timm) Nagel, he was born April 22, 1922, in St. Charles.
As you might guess, his favorite number was 22 — which he wore on his football jersey when he played halfback for the lightweight team of St. Charles High School, graduating class of 1940.
Ralph Nagel was a Renaissance man — athlete, architect, carpenter, electrician and self-made businessman.
His character was forged during the Great Depression, when he had to take on multiple jobs to help support his family. Despite the workload, he earned top grades, played multiple sports and somehow found time to take the lead role in his school plays all four years of high school.
A few years after graduating, he fell in love with and wed the prettiest girl in Geneva, Mary Ann Shewalter. They were married for more than 70 years, until Mary Ann’s death in 2012, raising three children and carving a life in Geneva.
During World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was stationed in San Diego, where he served as an electrician’s mate.
After his service, he made a living delivering milk for Oberweis Dairy, occasionally stopping to build a home in Geneva from the ground up with his own two hands. Over the years, he built houses on Logan Avenue, West State Street and Charles Street in Geneva, which still stand today.
In the early ‘50s, after an apprenticeship in Aurora, he started his own typewriter repair business in the garage of his home on State Street. In 1959, he moved his family to 15 Woodlawn St., on the East Side of Geneva, and put up the shingle for Valley Typewriter Company.
For more than 40 years, Ralph fixed and sold typewriters, adding machines, copy machines and, ultimately, calculators from the basement of his home. His service area reached to Chicago, Elgin, Aurora and all parts in between. His only advertisement was word of mouth and a tiny classified ad in The Geneva Republican, but there were few people who owned a typewriter in the Fox Valley who didn’t know his name or business.
Ralph Nagel loved his family, and he loved the outdoors. He and Mary Ann bought property on Brandy Lake in Woodruff, WI, where Ralph again built an addition to the cottage that his grandchildren would call “the Red House.”
He loved to fish and swim during his early years and to play golf with his sons, as often as possible and as soon as they learned to hold a club.
He was strong and smart and an incredibly hard worker. He was part of a generation who believed in honesty, integrity, opportunity and common sense. He was a kind man, endearingly sentimental in his old age, beloved by animals and children, friends and neighbors, colleagues and caregivers.
He was our dad, and we will miss him.
Ralph is survived by his daughter, Tinya (Bob) Craig of Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ; sons, Jon of South Elgin and Rick (Paula) Nagel of Geneva; sister-in-law Diana Shewalter, grandchildren, Andrew Craig of Allendale, NJ, Jamie (Rob) Fitzpatrick of Macon, GA, Kathryn and Tricia Nagel of Geneva; five great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17, at Malone Funeral Home, 24 E. State St. (Route 38), Geneva.
A “celebration of life” service will be held Sunday, January 20, 2019 at 2:00 pm at the United Methodist Church of Geneva, 211 Hamilton St., and a memorial luncheon will immediately follow the service at the church’s fellowship hall. Private burial will take place at Oak Hill Cemetery.
Donations should be made to the Holmstad Benevolent Care Fund, 700 W. Fabyan Parkway, Batavia, IL 60510, where Ralph received such excellent care for so many years.
Information 630-232-8233 or www.malonefh.com.
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