Ralph Duke "Ralphie" Hale, 64, died Saturday morning, April 9, 2022, at his ranch in Gisela, Arizona.
Ralphie was born on November 26, 1957, in Globe, Arizona, to Ralph and Letha (McDaniel) Hale. He was raised on his family’s cattle ranch that his granddad, Robert Duke Hale, bought in 1910 from E.C. Conway. Ralphie grew up punchin’ cows, building fence, and helping his folks with whatever needed to be done on a cattle ranch situated in rough country. Consequently, Ralphie was very handy and could fix anything.
Ralphie attended public school in Payson. When he wasn’t in school or helping on the ranch, he spent his childhood spare time with neighboring cousins, Tommy and Bill Barkley, and friends, Tommy and Twain Connolly, hunting, fishing and swimming in Tonto Creek.
Aside from being a cattle rancher, Ralphie was employed by the Gila County Highway Department for many years, where he maintained the windy road into Gisela. As he bladed the switchbacks and road east of the divide, he could see Neal Mountain—named after his great-granddad, William Riley Neal, Sr.—towering over the Gisela valley. Ralphie’s deep roots in Gisela were very important to him.
For more than five decades, Ralphie played guitar and sang in multiple bands. He played for dances, weddings and events all over the state. If there was a funeral for an old-timer in Gila County, Ralphie was the cowboy singing at the graveside service, strumming his acoustic guitar.
As a father, granddad, and great-granddad, Ralphie loved to teach his family how to hunt, fish and rope. He was a great storyteller and had an infectious laugh; bystanders often would laugh even if they couldn’t hear the story.
Ralphie is survived by his wife Michelle “Shelly” Hale; son Taylor (Trisha) Hale; daughter Reney (Jeremy) Weston; grandkids, Trey (Candace), Denton, Justin and Katia; great-grandson Augustus; sister LaDonna (Roy) Echols; nieces, nephews and cousins; and countless friends.
Ralphie is predeceased by his parents, and sisters Collette Sexton and Barbara Ashby.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 23, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. at the Tonto Apache Gymnasium in Payson, Arizona. A graveside service will immediately follow at the Gisela Pioneer Cemetery in Gisela, Arizona. The procession will return to the Tonto Apache Gymnasium for a luncheon and jam session.