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Ralph Auf der Heide

1915 - 2008, Santa Barbara

Ralph Auf der Heide, well-known artist and wine connoisseur died peacefully at his home on July 9. 2008 at age 93.

Ralph was born in Los Angeles on March 4, 1915, the eldest of 3 children. After his parents divorced when Ralph was 10, his mother opened a Harper's Method Beauty Salon in part of their home on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Celebrities from Gloria Swanson to the Marx brothers came there to have hair treatments. After graduating from Beverly Hills High School Ralph attended Chapman College in Los Angeles, George Washington University, and San Francisco State College majoring in English Literature. In order to be able to go to school, Ralph worked for the Agricultural Adjustment Administration in Washington D.C. which eventually transferred him to Berkley where he worked until 1940. While living in San Francisco, he worked for Walter Landor & Associates, a prestigious Industrial design firm. After marrying Lisl 1941 he had to abandon dreams of an artistic career in order to earn a living.

During the Second World War he continued to work for several Federal agencies and in 1943 joined the Office of War information, where he wrote and produced daily music programs for broadcast to China and the Far East.

After the war, now a father of 3, he moved the family to Los Angeles and later Altadena where he opened his own business as a manufacturer's representative of phonograph records and hi fi equipment. During those years he recorded and collected folk music and wrote record reviews and articles on jazz, folk and classical music. He donated extensive record collections to the Pasadena public Library,to radio station KPFK and to Ohio State University.

In 1970 Ralph and Lisl moved to Santa Barbara and Ralph wrote the ILLUSTRATED WINE MAKING BOOK, which was published by Doubleday in 1973. In 1974 Ralph became the manager and one of the partners of a new wine store they named The Wine cask. For the next 10 years Ralph established the reputation, still held,of the best wine shop in the area by his extensive knowledge of excellent wines at reasonable prices. He gave classes in home wine making and in wine appreciation at the Wine cask and at his home.

When the Wine cask was sold in 1984 Ralph and Lisl took an extended trip to Europe. There Ralph saw and admired paintings done on the reverse side of glass by self-taught artists in many of the Eastern European countries they visited. Now in his seventies and although he had never taken a single art class, he taught himself this ancient art form and through the ensuing years produced around 400 paintings most of which were sold. His unique method of extending the paintings onto the frames which he also made, and the whimsy of his subjects earned him many fans and exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad.

Several years ago he and Lisl persuaded the Santa Barbara County Park Department to allow a few hours each day for dogs off-leash use at Tabano Hollow and later to fence the area, build benches and add a water fountain for dogs and people. Ralph was appointed Captain of the Poop Patrol, a job he took very seriously.

He was a passionate Democrat, a lover of music and a voracious reader. He especially appreciated the writings of ancient Greeks and accumulated quite a library of their works, which he read over and over. Besides painting, he also created beautiful silver jewelry, pottery, stone and wood carvings and mosaics.

Two sons, Ralph, age 6 hours, and son Mark, age 11 preceded him. He is survived by his wife of 67 years Lisl, son Erik Auf der Heide, daughter Ingrid Wyss, sister Roeslein Birdsell and her son John, granddaughters Birgit Suess, Laura and Kristen Auf der Heide, grandsons David and Ben Wyss and 3 great grandchildren. We want to express our deep appreciation for the love and concern from all our friends and neighbors and for the wonderfully compassionate care from the Aides.

A celebration of his life will be held Saturday, July 19., at 1 p.m. at Live Oak Unitarian Congregation 820 No. Fairview Ave., Goleta.

In lieu of flowers donations to the Neighborhood Clinics or to Hospice are welcome.

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