Ralph D. Waddell Jr, Oak Ridge

Ralph D. Waddell, Jr., age 88, of Oak Ridge, passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by loving family, on Tuesday, May 18, 2021, after a brief illness. Ralph was born March 7, 1933 in Pikeville, KY. He was the first of three children to Ralph D. Waddell, Sr., and Marcella “Marcy” Waddell. 

Ralph spent the first three years of his life living in Pikeville where his father was head basketball coach and Athletic Director for Pikeville College. Ralph was considered a mascot for the team and is probably the youngest person to be pictured in the college yearbook, as “Little Coach”.  Ralph’s family later moved to Johnson City, where they lived for several years before relocating to Oak Ridge in 1943. He attended Elm Grove Elementary School, Jefferson Junior High School, and finally Oak Ridge High School, where he graduated in 1951. After high school, Ralph attended the University of Tennessee for a quarter, then briefly worked on highway construction projects in Texas.

He then returned to Oak Ridge and worked at the K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant and on the construction of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, OH. In 1953, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force where he served as a Crew Chief on RB-26s and RB-66s, and reached the grade of Staff Sargent before being Honorably Discharged in 1957. Moving back to Oak Ridge, Ralph began a 40-year carrier working at ORNL, K-25, and Y-12, retiring in 2000. During this time, he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from UT in 1968.

Upon retirement, Ralph, and his wife Donna, whom he married in 1980, traveled extensively around the United States in their RV, spending one summer working in Yellowstone National Park. He loved travelling and spending time with family and friends. For the last several years, they maintained their RV in Franklin, NC, which gave Ralph an opportunity to spend time with his devoted sisters, Carol and Dorothy, and other family members. Ralph was preceded in death by his parents, as well as a son, Ralph Scott, who only lived a few days.  

He is survived by daughter, Paula Rollings and husband Mitch, granddaughter, Elizabeth, great-granddaughter, Serenity, of Oologah, OK, Kathryn Rollings of Austin, TX, son, Tim Waddell and wife Sarah, of Oak Ridge, granddaughter, Molly Johnson and husband Caleb of Knoxville, grandson, Ryan Waddell, of Denver, CO, daughter Michelle Wheeler and husband Joey, and his daughter Piper, of Oak Ridge, and son Robert “Bo” McGregor and wife Constance, and granddaughters Kenzie, Emery, and Harley of Knoxville. A memorial service will be held at 2 pm Saturday, May 22nd at Christ Community Church, 100 Ogden Lane, Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Weatherford Mortuary is in charge of arrangements.

An online guestbook is available at weatherfordmortuary.com.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Ralph Dosser Waddell, Jr. please visit our Tribute Store.

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