Ralph died peacefully at home, supported lovingly by his wife, Kathy, as he was for every single day of their 16 years together. Despite living with chronic kidney disease for many years, it was a brief battle with cancer that took him, swiftly, in the end, on May 28, 2020.
As well as his wife, Kathy Baxter, Ralph is survived by his son Alan Smith (Kelly) and daughter Liana Smith, of Kingston, and remembered fondly by their mother, Karen Kelly. He was loving Grandpa to Bryan (Krista) and Gage, and Great-Grandpa to Colton. He was stepdad to Michael Baxter (Jill) and Amy Wilkinson (Craig), and Papa Ralph to Timothy, William, Christopher and Sabine.
A graduate of Ryerson in Business Administration, Ralph was a respected life insurance industry educator and trainer in his early career before launching his own financial services and consulting business. Having been active in a variety of charitable causes, he had a vision to expand philanthropy in Canada by finding a way to enlist investment advisors to engage in meaningful philanthropic discussions with their clients. Together with a few close colleagues, Ralph worked tirelessly to introduce donor-advised funds to the Canadian wealth management industry. Ultimately his hard work helped evolve their efforts into the formation of the Charitable Gift Funds Canada Foundation, arguably Canada’s largest donor-advised funds foundation.
No tribute to Ralph would be complete without a mention of golf. It was in his teens, at the Scarborough Golf & Country Club, that Ralph’s life-long love affair with the game began. He held his professional card for several years and played an incalculable number of rounds in his lifetime, at well over 400 courses across North America. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of the game and long after he gave up his professional status, Ralph continued to be a patient, gracious teacher and a true gentleman on the greens. Even throughout the last decade of his life, when his health was increasingly compromised, he continued to play with his hallmark graceful, effortless swing. Not one to mind that his handicap had slipped, he simply relished every day he played ‘on this side of the grass’.
A quiet, loyal man, in addition to his wife and children, Ralph leaves behind his brother, Gordon (Eileen) and sister Sylvia Percival (Ted), brothers and sisters-in-law Howard and Cynthia Kneen, Beth and Bob Martin and Wendy and David McClung, nieces and nephews in his extended family, cherished close friends, long-time colleagues and his beloved dog, Bogey.
The family wishes to thank the dialysis and transplant teams at OTMH and TGH that have supported Ralph for the past ten years. Also the palliative care professionals from the Dorothy Ley Hospice that made it possible for him to be cared for at home. In lieu of flowers the family would ask that donations be directed to the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation – Kidney Transplant Program (www.tgwhf.ca/tribute or 416-603-5300) or to a charity of your choice that is working to restore the health of our society in the midst of the current COVID crisis. A memorial celebration of Ralph’s life will be planned for a later date.