When Ralph was 13, he and his family moved to California, during World War II. Two years later, he told DMV he was older than he was so he could get his driver’s license a year early, which he felt well-qualified for given he had driven a truck on his family’s farm since age 11. Ralph attended Alameda High School. He had a 36 Ford convertible with a Carson top he extensively customized himself that he’d park in front of the school, so it was sure to be seen by his classmates.
After living in CA a couple years, Ralph and his father bought and began running a gas station in
Alameda. They were known for going above and beyond with their service and quality of work.
Ralph showed an aptitude in high school for working with numbers, and at 16, he got his first job
offer with a bank. After walking through the bank, however, he immediately decided “there’s no
way I’d want to stay at a job like this where I have to be indoors all day and never go outside”.
Looking across the street from the bank, he saw the Pontiac garage. The owner wanted him to do
mechanical work, but Ralph wasn’t interested in that, and told the owner he’d sell cars for him
instead. Thus began his career as an auto salesman.
After graduating from high school, Ralph’s family moved to Pittsburgh, CA, where his dad
opened “Wild Bill’s Used Cars”, and Ralph opened “Ralph and Ernie’s Crazy Trading Post”,
with the two car lots located right across the street from each other. During this time, he was also
in the National Guard for two years, attaining the rank of sergeant.
In 1950, during his first marriage, Ralph’s first son Ronald Gene Skyrme was born. Ron was
involved in quarter midget racing, and Ralph enjoyed helping him work on the cars and train in
the sport. Ralph competed in drag racing himself, and spent numerous hours under the hood to
get his car to go faster than his competitors. In 1952, Ralph bought 12 acres of land, a barn, and a house in Windsor, CA. At his Windsor ranch, he trained a couple horses, and was proud to ride
one of his horses in several parades, with full elaborate costumes for both himself and the horse.
After 8 years as a used car manager for Babe Wood Cadillac in Santa Rosa and a brief period
selling new cars for the Santa Rosa Lincoln-Mercury dealership, in 1961 Ralph opened his own
used car dealership in Santa Rosa, and for three decades had several car lots in different locations
along Santa Rosa Ave., including “World of Cars” and “Auto Expo”. He was known for his
honesty and integrity in an industry where that wasn’t always the case, and it was not uncommon
for customers to tell him and his family even years later how much they appreciated his character
and kindness in their dealings with him.
Ralph was also well-known among his fellow auto dealers for his work in the state and national
independent automobile dealers’ association. He was instrumental in re-invigorating the state
association, which he thought was a vital endeavor to help support individual dealers, work
towards meaningful safety regulations within the industry, and improve the image of auto dealers
in the eyes of the public. Ralph was awarded “Dealer of the Year” in 1969, and then again in
1979, by the Independent Automobile Dealers’ Association of California (IADAC). He also
served one term as the national association (NIADA) vice-president and one term as national
In 1968, Ralph married the love of his life, Linda Lee Adams, a kindergarten and first-grade
school teacher in Rohnert Park. They were married for 46 years, until Linda’s passing in 2014.
The couple was extremely devoted to each other and especially enjoyed traveling and ballroom
dancing. They never lost an opportunity to get out on the dance floor when live music was
playing, to the enjoyment of many onlookers. In 1975, Ralph and Linda welcomed their son into
the world, Gary Michael Skyrme (professional name Gary Skye), who showed an early passion
for music that was proudly supported by both parents. Gary resides south of Portland, OR, and is a professional solo and collaborative pianist, piano teacher, church music director, and composer/singer-songwriter.
Ralph had an entrepreneurial interest in side business ventures as well, including selling solar
systems, water purification systems, and various health supplements. He also served as Gary’s
talent agent through “Lucky Star Talent Agency”, a company of his own devising. For the last 12
years of his career, Ralph transitioned from selling cars to selling manufactured homes at
“Custom Manufactured Homes”, also on Santa Rosa Ave. He continued displaying his great
customer service in this new role, and he especially enjoyed using his very detail-oriented eye to
help design aesthetically pleasing floor-plans and choose high-quality upgrades to the homes he
In retirement, Ralph loved taking drives, tinkering with things around the house, gardening,talking with neighbors, watching old Western movies and comedies, taming his neighborhood feral cat, donating to charities, making sure every hair was still in place, and talking with Gary on the phone almost every day.Ralph passed away at his home in Rohnert Park on Feb. 6, 2022, a few months shy of his 94th birthday, surrounded by family, friends, and his devoted caregivers.
Ralph began attending our Center around 1975, when we were still located on Orchard Street. He was one of our oldest and longest-attending congregants. Ralph’s memorial service will be held this Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 6:30pm, at Santa Rosa Center for Spiritual Living, 2075 Occidental Rd.