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The late Ralph Counsell was a quiet man. An extraordinarily generous….and quiet man.
“Though he was a generous annual donor and supporter of the Elgin-St. Thomas Community Foundation, we did not know Mr. Counsell had been so thoughtful and generous in his will” says Executive Director Karen Laine when learning of the $100,000.00 gift Ralph Counsell bequeathed to the Community Foundation. “I know there are many local charities who have received generous gifts from Mr. Counsell estate, and we are grateful and honoured to be one of them.”
Born in Windsor Ontario in 1923, his father died when he was 19 years old. His mother held the family together, and he and his brother Harry helped to raise their younger sister Irene and took on the duties of the ‘men of the house’ at that young age.
Ralph thought himself a lucky man,…he found and married the love of his life Noreen . “I’ve never seen such a loving couple as those two” says friend Mara Prskalo.
Ralph worked at Fearn Ford, and later at the Licence Bureau. Noreen worked for Bell Canada in Aylmer and as a probation officer for Corrections- a job she enjoyed for being able to make a difference in the lives of the young people she worked with.
After retirement they enjoyed winters in Florida until Noreen’s health made that difficult in 2002. They had a special love of the local parks, and the local wildlife,…often collecting food for the racoons, regularly fed the birds and geese and resident deer in the winter….always thinking of their furry or feathered friends. Ralph and Noreen were also regular charter members of the Tim Horton’s coffee club, and joined many friends there for a daily visit. That is where they met Mara and Ilija Prskalo who quickly became like family to them.
Ralph and Noreen gave back to the community in many ways. Noreen’s favourite charity was the Ronald McDonald House for the special way they support children and families, and Ralph was an active member of the Masonic Lodge 3302 and the HIRo Shrine Club.
“They were hard working, loving and caring,…and did not waste anything” says Mara Prskalo. “I know it broke Ralph’s heart when Noreen died in 2005. I miss them a lot….”
Ralph died peacefully on June 09th, 2010, in his 87th year.
The Elgin-St. Thomas Community Foundation is very grateful for this extraordinary gift and special legacy from Ralph and Noreen Counsell. It will benefit the charities of Elgin County into perpetuity.
There is nothing like a story to help us understand the impact of our actions. At the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation we “have a pile of ’em”.
Over our short history we have distributed over $190,000 in grants to local charities or in scholarships to local youth and we are looking forward to sharing them with you.