Raphael Martin "Ralph" Kudela, age 81, of Mankato, died Saturday, November 11, 2017, at Pathstone Living.
Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will be held 11:00 a.m., Friday, November 17, 2017, at All Saints Catholic Church in Madison Lake, with Rev. Robert Schneider officiating. Visitation will be 9:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. at the church. Interment will be in Calvary Cemetery in Mankato. Mankato Mortuary handled the arrangements. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the Dept. of Special Education at Minnesota State University - Mankato, American Diabetes Association, or All Saints Catholic Church.
Ralph was born November 2, 1936, in Wilkes-Barre, PA. He was the son of Rudolph and Ludmilla (Podskoch) Kudela. Ralph was a 1954 graduate of West Wyoming High School, a 1958 graduate of King's College in Wilkes-Barre, and received his Master's Degree in Education in 1960 from Fairfield University. He served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1960 until 1965.
Ralph taught sixth grade at Whitney Point Central School from 1961 to 1963. He was united in marriage to Mary Lou Gallagher on August 22, 1964, in Cincinnatus, NY. Ralph then taught Special Education elementary classes at Wappingers Falls School in New York from 1965 to 1967. He earned his PhD. in Education Psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1974. Ralph was a Professor of Special Education at Minnesota State University - Mankato from 1971 until 1999, when he retired as an Emeritus Faculty member. He served as professor and Chair of the Special Education Department at Minnesota State as well as consulting as Educational Psychologist for many area schools including Waseca, Ellendale, Lake Crystal, and New Richland.
Ralph was a member of All Saints Catholic Church in Madison Lake for over 26 years. He also was a member of the American Psychological Association, Mankato Elk's Club, the Moose Lodge, The American Legion, as well as Civitan organization. Ralph was a Boy Scout leader and led his son and friends on many adventures at Camp Cayuna. He was dedicated to his profession, having a special empathy for disadvantaged children and advocating for them and their families. He was beloved by his many students who appreciated his wit and wisdom. His classes were never dull. Ralph especially enjoyed traveling, camping, philosophy, theology, comics and cartoons, listening to people, and most of all spending time with his family. His students and family always found him to be a teddy bear: gruff on the outside but gentle and compassionate. Ralph's favorite comment was, "Why not?" because he always saw possibilities and had a strong faith in God.
Ralph is survived by his loving wife of 53 years, Mary Lou Kudela of Mankato; three children, Cecile Kudela, Raphael (Sarah) Kudela Jr., and Katherine (Patrick) Hiltner; two grandchildren, Eleanor Kudela and Robert Kudela; sisters, Emilie (Bert Prohaska) Kudela and Mary Jo (Casimer) Ostapovicz; brothers-in-law, Mark (Patricia) Gallagher and John J. (Phyllis) Gallagher; also several nieces and nephews; and a close friend, Gerald Schneck.
He was preceded in death by his parents; an infant daughter, Kirsten Mary; uncles, Joseph, Martin, Daniel, and Clement Podskoch; in-laws, Thomas and Regina Gallagher; brother-in-law, Thomas Gallagher Jr.; and sister-in-law, Margaret Hartman.
Published on November 14, 2017