Ralph was born to Rose and Morris Balasco on March 8, 1919, in Philadelphia, an only child, and died on June 23rd, 2018, in Houston. He graduated from high school in 1935 during the Great Depression and the family promptly moved to Houston with all their belongings in their old car. He quickly went to work to earn enough to attend college aiming to become a lawyer, first selling men’s work clothes, then at Foley’s basement shoe department, then at Battelstein’s wrapping at the checkout counter. Finally in 1938 he enrolled at The University of Texas in Austin but dropped out of law school at the end of the summer term in August of 1941 because war was imminent.
In October of 1941 he made a brief visit to Austin to visit his AEPi
roommate, Max Levin of Galveston, who was at the intramural field with his date, Sybil Premack from Aberdeen, South Dakota, so they were introduced.
In December, 1941, he enlisted in the Army, attended Air Corps Intelligence School and was assigned to the 367th Fighter Group, later known as The Dynamite Gang, as its Intelligence Officer. After serving in various U.S. locations he was sent to England and transferred to France 30 days after the D-day invasion and then to Germany assigned to Fighter Wing Headquarters as Provost and Legal Officer. In 1945 he was honorably discharged as a Captain and returned to law school in Austin, graduating in 1949. That summer he happened to meet Sybil again as she was visiting Millicent and Robert Sukman in Galveston. After many months of correspondence and phone calls between Houston and Aberdeen they were married in 1950 on April 11 th at Congregation Emanu El in Houston. He established a solo law practice and had an interesting and fascinating career with clients including Yoko Ono and John Lennon in their famous custody suit in Houston in which they prevailed. He served as president of the Houston Trial Lawyers Association, the Houston Chron’s and Colitis Foundation, on various organization boards and as the favorite dinner partner of many of the wives of his good friends because of his wit, charm and smile.
In 2012 he fell and was practically housebound since as a result so he reminisced about events such as these frequently:
For years he especially enjoyed the weekly lunches with Sybil, Harold Farb and Fred Rizk; the various good times with June and the late David Van Tosh, Julia and Russell Frankel, Angela and Bob Knauss at their ranch, Jerold Katz, Bobby Sue and Morton Cohn, Mary and Vincent Kickerillo and Kelli and Todd Forester; the monthly lunches at Tony’s with fellow ROMEO’s (Retired Old Men Eating Out) the late Dr. Arnold Greenspan and the late Dr. Simon Fredricks, Dr. Milton Wagner and Jan Douglas Norris; the monthly poker games with Rhoda and Simon Fredricks, next door neighbor the late Ann Sakowitz, Beth Beloff, Marc Geller or Melanie and John Pepper and Pat Lykos and Bill Allen; the Christmas and 4th of July celebrations at Cissie and Dr. Lieven Van Riet’s; Thanksgiving dinners at the Galveston home of Harriet and Dr. Ed Reitman; co birthdays with the late Barbara and Dr. Milton Wagner; the celebrations following Yorn Kippur at Tony’s by Bruce and the late Shirley Stein; the many cruises and driving travels, frequently with Millicent and Dr. Robert Sukman; traveling and partying with Richard Leibman; enjoying Jan Norris, who called every day to offer help; playing hours of Rummikub with Joanie and Marty Seidler or Scott Sokoloff or Mitch Gottlieb; the frequent dinners with Ruby and the late Melvin Sondock and Alice Weiser and Ralph Berkman; the many grand celebrations with Dr. Kelli and Martin Fein, Donna and Tony Vallone, Bobbie and Stanley Weinstein, Susan and Dr. Alan Garber or Jan Greenspan; particularly the 25 years vacationing in Santa Fe and at their condo in Taos, New Mexico., where he made many friends, especially Dan Anthony, Glenna Goodacre, Rena Rosequist, Jane and Steve Wardlaw and Peter French and with many Pueblo Indians where Jody Folwell of Santa Clara became a close friend and he started his collection of Indian pottery. He attended many reunions of his wartime outfit. When he hosted in Houston
the invited guest speaker was the late Benjamin Ronn, a veteran pilot of Israel’s War of Independence, and his wife Joan.
With no children and no surviving relatives his friends amplified and enhanced his life. Heartfelt thanks to all of them.
He is survived by his wife of 68 heavenly, loving years, Sybil, his brotherin-law Herschel Premack and wife Bea, Aberdeen, South Dakota, and their daughters Ellen Premack, and Charlie Hauber, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Judith and Keith Josephson, Scottsdale, AZ.
Honorary sympathizers and supporters are Morton Cohn, George Foreman, Kelli and Todd Forester, Rhoda Fredricks, Susan and Dr. Alan Garber, Jan Douglas Norris, Mary and Vincent Kickerillo, Richard Leibman, Dan Pastorini, Harriet and Dr. Ed Reitman, Regina Rogers, Joan Ronn, Robert Sakowitz, Scott Sokoloff, Ruby Sondock, Bruce Stein, Donna and Tony Vallone, Cissie and Dr. Lieven Van Riet, June Van Tosh, Dr. Milton Wagner, and Bobbie and Stanley Weinstein.
Special thanks to those many friends who helped whenever he fell, including the 911 responders; to his advising radiologist Dr. Byron Bohnn,; primary physician for many years, Dr. James Muntz,; excellent cardiologist Dr. John Seger,; outstanding dermatologist Dr. Margaret Waisman; superb current geriatric physician, Dr. Carmel Dyer; and to Scott Sokoloff who had an unusual understanding of and relationship with Ralph for 20 years.
No flowers, please. If you choose to pay tribute to Ralph donations would be welcomed at Jewish Family Service, 4131 S. Braeswood, Houston 77025, to Congregation Emanu El, 1500 Sunset Blvd, Houston 77005 or the charity of your choice.