Ralph Stokes, 90, Vero Beach

Ralph Stokes, 90, died on May 20, 2011 in Vero Beach.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 17th, 1921, Stokes graduated from Collinwood High School and went on to attend college at the University of Michigan.

When World War II broke out, Stokes left school to enlist in the U.S. Navy where he trained and served as a naval aviator in the South Pacific.

At the close of the war Stokes, an accomplished French Horn player, returned to school at Baldwin Wallace College and graduated with a BA degree in music education.

Upon graduation, Stokes worked as a high school band director. He taught economics and sociology as well.

Not long after, he reenlisted in the Navy to continue his naval aviation education.

Stokes left the Navy in 1959 and utilized his naval training to become first, an air traffic accident investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board and later, a program manager for the FAA’s Transportation Safety Institute in Oklahoma City, Okla.

While employed at the TSI, Stokes authored “The Aircraft Accident Investigation Glossary” and several chapters of the “TSI Basic Aircraft Accident Investigation Procedures and Techniques Training Manual.” Retirement from US Department of Transportation in 1980 allowed Stokes the freedom to further pursue his two loves; music and golf.

He played the French horn in numerous community bands, orchestras, and ensembles.

He traveled extensively and played golf courses around the world.

In 1998 his pursuit of year round warm weather brought Ralph to Vero Beach where he continued to play his music in the Treasure Coast Symphony and enjoyed playing golf year round.

Stokes loved the crosswords, a good joke, a cold beer and a fine cigar.

Survivors include his daughter, Sallie Kaible, of Long Island, N.Y.; three sons Ralph Stokes, III of Oklahoma City, Okla., David Stokes, of Vero Beach and Keith Stokes, of Long Island, N.Y.; eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

He is pre-deceased by the mother of his four children, Sally B Stokes.

The family would like to send their deep gratitude to Dr. Robert Tobar and his staff for their attentive care of Ralph.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, 4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300, Jacksonville, FL 32256.

No services are planned locally.

Arrangements are under the direction Cox-Gifford-Seawinds Funeral Home & Crematory, Vero Beach, FL.

Condolences may be sent to www.seawindsfh.com

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