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Ralph W. Nestor

December 10, 2012 | 14 comments

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.



  1. Eldon & tiny Berg

    Our hearts are saddened too, May you all find some peace, Ralph indeed will be greatly missed. We will be there Saturday. God bless.

  2. Ron Blakely and Jim Smith

    Dear Pat and Family,

    We were so saddened to hear of Hap’s passing. Please accept our most sincere condolences and sympathy. While we, who remain here, have wonderful memories of times spent with Hap, Heaven has welcomed a new citizen and a good man.

  3. Gary and Donna Peterson

    Pat and family,
    So stunned to hear of Ralph’s death. Heart felt sympathy to you all. If we can be any assistance any time, let us know.
    Gary and Donna

  4. Brad Opsahl

    Pat, you have our sympathy. You may not remember me, but I remember you and Ralph from the summer of 1984 while we (Al, Maren, Kari, and me) visited you in Alaska. I believe we visited the saloon, and it was light out when we left late that night! Ralph took us up in a plane to show us the wildlife, and a wild ride. Thank you for the great time and the memories. Brad Opsahl (wife Lisa and daughters Jena and Lexi).

  5. Kristy Brown

    Our thoughts and prayers are with your family – Ralph was a great person and will be missed by many.

  6. Becky & Rodger

    To all the wonderful and exciting times and who can forget the Wild Game Feeds – Thanks Ralph for making those happen. Pat know that our hearts are with you.

  7. Jeffrey &Kathryn garrad

    Dear Pat,
    We were deeply saddened to hear about Ralph, he was a terrific man . I have very fond memories of my trip to Alaska with you both and your trip to Australia. Our thoughts and sympathy are with you at this time of sadness and loss.
    Your Aussie mate forever Jeff

  8. Jeffrey &Kathryn garrad

    Dearest Pat,
    We were very saddened to hear about Ralph. I have very fond memories of my trip to Alaska with you both and your trip down under to Australia. He was a great man and the world will be a little bit sadder place with out him. Our thoughts are with you at this sad time.

  9. Jack and Lois Harr

    Sorry to hear of your loss. Friends from the garden club and Curves shared the sad story to me this morning. Our prayers are with you and your family as you gather to share the many memories that will eventually give you peace. Our Lord will give you strength.

  10. Colleen (Larson) Hass

    Pat-Our sincere sympathy to you and your family, Sorry we won’t be able to come to the services. Charles had total hip replacement a week ago. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

  11. A J Taylor

    Pat and family; Please accept my heartfelt sympathy, Ralph was truly an amazing man and will certainly be missed by me. Our hearts go out to you in your time of sorrow and loss.

  12. Mitch and Petra Vogel

    Dear Pat and Family,

    Ralph will be missed by many, but he will never be forgotten. His posts on the internet, his stories of life’s adventure and his love of the outdoors has touched many. It is an honor to have known him.

  13. Jeff Jackson-Fbks

    So sorry to hear this news. Shaun and I have been best friends since they mooved to AK
    In 1974. I have a lot of R.W. memories. Especially the time shaun and I were out all nite and i ended up on Ralphs couch, with a terrible cough that echoed into his bedroom I guess because about 5am, someone rolled me over; and there’s Ralph, in his underwear shoving a bottle of cough syrup at me. He never said a word, just turned and went back to bed! No more tears from me Ralph. Your’re probably up there telling us all to knock it off by now anyway. Im gonna remember how you lived, not how you died. If there’s vintage sleds in heaven, we’ll be riding together before you know it.

  14. Elmer Funk

    Although I never met Ralph in person he and I were very good internet friends for many years. We met on a Hunting forum many years ago and just became very good friends. We were always trying to meet up some time when he came to Canada to hunt but it never happened. I do believe if I remember right he came through my home town one day and because I work all over Sask I wasn’t home and it ended up a missed opportunity. Once I even helped him get a goose hunt in Saskatchewan where I live. We kept in touch through emails many times a year discussing our hunts, his trips to Alaska, his love of snowmobiles, etc. I tried to contact him several times in the last year and a half or so and just now found out what I have feared to be true. My sincere condolences to his Wife and family. Ralph I know was a very good man and loved his family very much and I’m sure he is missed a lot. My prayers go out to his family.

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