MOUNT CARROLL—Ralph Hough, 87, of Mount Carroll, passed away peacefully in North Carolina on Monday, Nov. 25, 2019.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, at the First Baptist Church in Mount Carroll.
Ralph was born June 3, 1932, in Oak Park. He attended the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and received his B.A. in journalism.
He moved to Mount Carroll with his young family in 1961 and, apart from some jobs that took him out of town in his later years, he spent the majority of his life there. For many years, he was Director of Admissions at Shimer College and later became Dean of Students.
After Shimer moved from Mount Carroll, Ralph worked for the alumni association of the Illinois College of Optometry before heading south to manage the fundraising for The Richmond County Museum in Augusta, Ga. During those years he would return to visit Mount Carroll and restore his beloved house on Clay Street at every opportunity.
During his life in Mount Carroll, Ralph loved participating in many community activities. He was actively involved in musical productions at Shimer's Karyn Kupcinet Theater during Shimer's heyday. After the college was gone, Ralph opened RG's Restaurant in the empty Karyn Kupcinet Theater. He was president of Timber Lake Playhouse for 12 years and also ran the Timber Lake Restaurant and Campground for a time.
Ralph was very involved in the First Baptist Church of Mount Carroll for almost 50 years, teaching Sunday school and participating in Bible studies. Over the years, he remained actively involved in many local associations, volunteering at the ice cream socials and Brick Street Days downtown. He tutored many local students, taught a GED course there, and bestowed acts of kindness throughout the community. His daughters often heard of these acts of kindness after the fact from the receiver; Ralph never mentioned them.
Ralph's love for Mount Carroll was obvious. He delighted in calling his daughters on Halloween to give a headcount of the trick-or-treaters that came to the house. He loved having the largest Christmas tree that he could fit into the house, and its lights could always be seen by passersby on Clay Street. For many years, he cultivated a large garden behind his house and loved canning like crazy at the end of every season.
His greatest vocation, however, was being a father to his three daughters. Nothing made Ralph happier than to have a house full of children and dogs for the holidays and over the summer. He could be relied upon to have a big pot of spaghetti with home-grown tomatoes on the stove for any arrival and always stood in the middle of Clay Street to watch the departure.
His warmth and wisdom during late-night talks on his back porch were the reassuring highlights of many trips. He called to let his daughters know when his two favorite movies, The Wizard of Oz and It's a Wonderful Life, were showing on TV. He never missed a year.
His fall into dementia meant that he could not stay in his beloved house as he had wished. However, his daughters were honored to be entrusted with his care. It gave them an opportunity to return the stability and love that he had shone to them for so many years. He spent his last days near his eldest daughter, Susan, and the daily visits from the family dog brightened days that were, at times, confusing and stressful for him.
He is survived by his daughters, Susan (Bill) Whitehead, Sarah (Jim) Boykin and Elizabeth Hough; and his five grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Louise and Ralph Hough; his brother, Jere; a sister, Susan; and his good friend and ex-wife, Joan Hough.