Ralph Orkin

Ralph Orkin passed away Sept. 18, 2019, at age 89. Beloved husband of Sheilah for 67 years, adored father of Marilyn Orkin Weinberg and loving Papa to Max and Sarah Weinberg. Dear brother-in-law of Nedra Rotsky and the late Mort Rotsky, and cherished Uncle Rock to the Rotsky clan: Stephanie Rotsky, Rabbi Sandi Intraub, Ilan and Asher Intraub-Rotsky, Jay Rotsky, Leslie, Jacob and Annie, Jack Rotsky, Meredith, Brandon, Jaime and Hannah (Cantlie), Jeff Rotsky, Gina, Bailey and Emmie. Devoted son of the late Alex and Fanny Orkin. Dear brother of Ruth Goronea and uncle to Mark and Jeff, and brother of the late Roger Orkin. Loved by many other friends and family members, including first cousins, Edith Paller and Pat Singer.

Ralph was born in Cleveland on April 15, 2019. He skipped a grade and graduated early from Cleveland Heights High School. He attended Purdue University on a full scholarship, where he received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and attended Case Western Reserve University, where he earned his Master’s Degree in industrial engineering. In 1951, he met the love of his life, Sheilah Schermer, at Camp Wise in Painesville, where upon seeing her mixing the “bug juice,” he quipped the famous line, “No wonder I never liked that stuff.” Ralph was drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps. in 1952 and served for two years at Camp LeJeune, N.C. He and Sheilah were married in Cleveland on May 14, 1952, with 500 relatives and friends in attendance. They lived in North Carolina until 1954. 

After the service, they moved back to Ohio, where they bought a house in South Euclid. Ralph initially worked for Warner & Swasey and spent years volunteering as a Big Brother at Bellefaire, where he forged a lifelong relationship with his Little Brother, Joe Simmer. In 1958, he and Sheilah welcomed daughter, Marilyn, who had the good fortune to grow up with the best father anyone could have asked for. After Warner & Swasey, Ralph went to work for The Glastic Corp. in South Euclid, where he was vice president of manufacturing for 20 years. When he retired from Glastic, he and Sheilah went into business together doing personnel placement for Sanford Rose Associates – Euclid. They had an office in Euclid and then a home office, where they worked together every day for many years.

After retiring from Sanford Rose, Ralph remained active at home and in the community. After retiring from Sanford Rose, Ralph began volunteering two days a week as a reading mentor – initially for the Cleveland schools through the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and later for the Breakthrough Schools, the Intergenerational School and finally the Lakeshore Intergenerational School, where he read with the children for two days a week and then once a week through this past May. He loved spending time with the kids and they loved him, too – he received Lakeshore’s Volunteer of the Year award for 2014-15. 

In addition to being a devoted husband and a wonderful, supportive father, he was an incredibly loving “hands-on” papa to grandchildren, Max and Sarah, who were the light of his life. He spent endless hours playing with them, reading to them and just being there for them as a source of strength, support, stability and love. In addition to his mentoring activities, Ralph enjoyed working in the yard, gardening, doing crossword puzzles, acrostics and jigsaw puzzles. He was well-known for swimming a half-a-mile a day well into his early 70s. His kindness, easy-going manner and playful sense of humor were just a few of the many qualities that endeared him to all who had the privilege of knowing him. He will be deeply missed by many, but especially by his beloved wife and daughter.   

Contributions are suggested to the Women of Fairmount Temple Orkin Touch ‘n Tell Fund, 23737 Fairmount Blvd, Beachwood, OH 44122, or to The Lakeshore Intergenerational School, 18025 Marcella Road, Cleveland, OH 44119.