He was born on January 13, 1934, in Pilgrim district, Houghton, Michigan to John and Ina (Hongisto) Niemela. Ralph attended Lincoln High School, and Henry Ford Trade School where he learned metal pattern making. He married Helen Parkkila on June 27, 1952, in Detroit, Michigan. They lived in Michigan until 1970, moving then to New Hampshire for 48 years. In 2018, they moved to Florida to live with their daughter and her husband Rebecca and Barry Chapman. Ralph was a pastor in the Apostolic Lutheran Church of Eastern Massachusetts and Ashburnham where he served for over 30 years. Ralph also started Anchor Industries in 1975 and operated the business in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire for more than 40 years.
Ralph loved his wife, Helen, and lived to care for her. He also loved, and was loved by, his family and many friends. Ralph was a lifelong member of the Apostolic Lutheran Church. He faithfully guided his family in the love of his Lord and led by example as a man who was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ but lived in the power of its redemption. Ralph traveled extensively in his life to spread the gospel, especially throughout New England, while at the same time working full-time in his business and full-time as a pastor. He worked at these missions with immense effort and endless energy.
Ralph is survived by Helen, his beloved wife of over 70 years, his children Ralph (Grace) Niemela of Woodruff, South Carolina, Racheal (Arnold) Goddard of Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, Rebecca (Barry) Chapman of Port Charlotte, Florida, Nancy (Scott) McLaughlin of Port Charlotte, Florida and Michael (Carol) Niemela of Henderson, Nevada, 30 grandchildren, numerous great and great-great grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews, and his sister in law, Alice (Parkkila) Aittama. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brothers and sisters.
Visitation will be held at the Roberson Funeral Home, Port Charlotte Chapel, 2151 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte, Florida 33948, on Saturday, March 25th at 2:00 pm. The funeral service will follow, at 3:00 pm, with Pastors Robert Maki and Michael Niemela officiating. Burial will be at the Ashburnham Apostolic Lutheran Church Cemetery on April 22, 2023.