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Ralph W. Nestor

A man of adventure, Ralph W. Nestor, died December 9, 2012, at his home in rural Cashton. Born on November 25, 1939, to Ralph W. and Mildred (Bruce) Nestor in Teaneck, New Jersey, Ralph grew up in New Jersey, and attended Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, where obtained a B.A. in 1961, a B.S. In 1966, and an M.S. in 1970. Ralph lived in a multitude of places, from Nassau, Bahamas to Gentilly, Minnesota, with his favorite being Fairbanks, Alaska. Ralph moved to Fairbanks in 1974 because a favorite radio program was Sergeant Preston in the Yukon. 

Ralph was a professor of Business Administration, initially at Cornell University, then in the University of Minnesota system, and then at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks where he was head of the Travel Industry Management Program. While teaching classes in tourism and wine tasting, Ralph also loved to start new businesses. He ran a general store in Goldstream, Alaska, several giftshops in Fairbanks, started the Real Alaska Mushing Company catalog, was a partner in a fishing lodge, and ran the Malamute Saloon and Cripple Creek Hotel in Ester, Alaska.

Ralph loved to hunt and fish. One of first successes was a muskrat that he and a high school friend skinned and hung from a clothesline in suburban New Jersey, to the outrage of the neighbors. In later year, he hunted and fished throughout North America. His trophies included musk-ox, Kodiak bear, black bear, elk, moose, caribou, Dall Sheep, antelope, mountain goats, lynx, mountain lion, and too many deer and turkeys to count. Waterfowl throughout North America also came to fear Ralph.

Ralph was an accomplished dog musher. He trained and raised his own sled dogs and raced in the Yukon Quest and other races in Alaska. Throughout his life, he trained many beloved labradors for bird hunting. He also learned to hunt on horseback and went for recreational rides in the Dakotas, Missouri, Montana, and other states. Ralph loved snow-machining and competed in the Tired Iron, a vintage snow-machine race in Fairbanks.

Ralph was also known for endangering his friends and relatives on some of his adventures. Ranging from getting lost in fogged-in mountain passes, to snapping a canoe in half in the Gulkana River, to hauling a caribou on a horse while taking a “shortcut” through a marsh and almost losing the horse in the quagmire, Ralph always had Lady Luck beside him.

Ralph was a gourmet cook who shared recipes with his friends and published them in magazines and on the internet. In particular, he developed recipes for cooking wild game and fresh produce from his garden. If you sat down at his table, you knew better than to not finish everything on your plate.

Ralph was a volunteer with the North American Squirrel Association (nasa) in providing hunting and fishing experiences for elderly and handicapped persons. He also mentored many young people in learning to hunt and fish.

Ralph is survived by his wife of twenty-seven years, Patricia (Larson) Nestor, his son Shaun (Melody Kokrine, Charles Kokrine, Sage Kokrine) of Fairbanks, his son Bruce (Susana, Alan and Citlalitl), and numerous nieces and nephews, in-laws, and great and grand-nieces and nephews and numerous great friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and sister Barbara Lee.

A Remembrance Service will be held at 3:30 pm on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at the Coulee Region Cremation Group, 133 Mason Street, Onalaska, WI. A visitation will be held from 1:00 – 3:30 pm at the funeral home on Saturday. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the North American Squirrel Association. Thanks to Sanford Regional Medical Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., Gundersen Lutheran Hospice and the support and love from family and friends.

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