URBANA — Former Democratic Champaign County Board member Ralph Louis Langenheim Jr., 97, of Urbana died Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019, at home.
Ralph was born May 26, 1922, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Ralph Louis and Myrtle (Helmers) Langenheim.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Casey Diana; children, Victoria Langenheim and Ralf Langenheim; stepchildren, Eric Steckler and Matthew Diana; granddaughter, Emma Langenheim; and stepgrandchildren, Logan Hodges, Eric Applequist and Stella and Scarlett Steckler.
Ralph served as an officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After training at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., he served in the D-Day landings. He retired from the Navy Reserve as a lieutenant commander.
He received a bachelor of arts from the University of Tulsa, 1943; master of science from the University of Colorado, 1947; and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, 1951. He was an assistant professor at Coe College, Iowa, 1950-1952; assistant professor, paleontology, University of California, Berkeley, 1952-1959; professor of geology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1959-1992, professor emeritus since 1993, and curator of fossil invertebrates, National History Museum, 1988-1992.
Ralph also worked with the Instituto Geologico Nac. de Colombia, 1953; Geological Survey Canada, 1958; Geological Survey Iran, 1973; Geological Survey Republic of China, 1981; Polytechnic University Albania, 1992; and served as distinguished visiting professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 1994-2003, and the book-review editor of Geological Education, 1990-2003. He received the Rudolph Eric Raspe Medal, Institute Geometaphysik Neuschwanstein, in 1971. He was a partner in Lanman Associates Consultant Geologists.
Ralph’s memberships include the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Paleontological Society, Geological Society of America, Society Sedimentary Geology, American Association Petroleum Geologists, International Association Cnidaria Specialists, Illinois Academy of Sciences, The Explorers Club, Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Naval Institute, Rotary Club, Exchange Club, Reserve Officer Association, United States Ship Landing Craft Infantry National Association and Sigma Xi.
He served on the Champaign County Board between 1998 and 2014 as a member of the Environment and Land Use Committee and the Highway Committee. He was the Champaign County Mahomet Aquifer Consortium representative, served on the Champaign-Urbana Urban Area Transportation System Committee and the Human Services Committee and was a precinct committee representative in Savoy. At every Fourth of July parade, Ralph was sure to be found happily hoisting the U.S. flag at the head of the Democratic Party.
Ralph Langenheim enjoyed a long, healthy and happy life. He was well-loved and highly regarded.
A memorial celebration will be held at a later date.
Lux Memorial Chapel, Rantoul, is handling the arrangements.