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January 27, 2009 3:40 am

Ralph E. Reiner

Written by Tribune Staff

(May 6, 1926 - Jan. 22, 2009)

Ralph E. Reiner, 82, died Thursday, Jan. 22, at Powell Valley Care Center.

He was born May 6, 1926, in Billings, to Capt. Thomas Arthur and Martha Anne Reiner. He received his early schooling at Helena, Mont., prior to his father being transferred to the 23rd Infantry 2nd Division at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas, where he continued his education at Alamo Heights, San Antonio.

During World War II, he was with the U.S. Army Air Corp from 1943-46,on Active Reserve from 1946-51 with the U.S. Army Air Corp and U.S. Air Force.

He attended St. Mary's University, San Antonio, Texas for one year, University of Texas, Austin, for five years on the GI Bill, majoring in geology, meteorology and botany with minors in chemistry and biology.

During the Korean War, he served with the U.S. Air Force from 1951-54.

He was a park ranger naturalist for 25 years, and a tour guide naturalist for three years, working in Glacier, Yellowstone and Teton national parks.

During this time, he wrote “Introducing the Flowering Beauty of Glacier National Park and the Majestic High Rockies,” which was the first full color flower book in the National Park. He then wrote “Going to the Sun,” a short travelogue of things to see on that highway in Glacier National Park.

In 1975, while conducting a “Moonlight Tour” from the Old Faithful Inn area, he met his wife, Lorraine, who, with her sister, was visiting the United States from Adelaide, South Australia. They corresponded, Lorraine returned to see what it was like to live in snow-covered mountains, loved what she saw, and they were married at Bozeman, Mont., in 1976.

The couple was married 32 years and lived in Montana, Colorado, Texas and Wyoming. They worked with cattle, lived for eight years at 10,700 feet at the University of Denver High Altitude Laboratory in the mountains west of Denver, and also maintained the university buildings at the top of Mt. Evans at 12,824 feet. He started and ran the Mt. Evans Research Weather Station at the Echo Lake area and kept records for the National Weather Service. He also gave weather details to the radio and TV stations in Denver.

Ralph wrote “The Majestic ‘Front Range' Region of Clear Creek County, Colorado,” while in this area.

The couple moved to Texas for a short period, but soon returned to Montana and Wyoming, where Ralph worked on another book, “Majestic Big Horn Country of Montana and Wyoming,” the ninth and final book he wrote.

For the last five years Ralph, was the curator of the Museum of Flight and Aerial Firefighting at Greybull, living at Emblem.

He is survived by his wife, Lorraine; his son, Jeff Ward of Slidell, La.; and his brother, Richard Reiner of Rockport, Texas.

Cremation has taken place and, in accordance with his wishes, no services are planned.

Thompson Funeral Home and Crematory is in charge of arrangements.