Ralph Ellefson Profile Photo
1931 Ralph 2024

Ralph Ellefson

January 25, 1931 — January 13, 2024

Dr. Ralph D. Ellefson, 92, joined his bride, Donna, on the morning of January 13, 2024. Ralph was born January 25, 1931, in Glenwood, Minnesota to Anna and Alfred Ellefson who were Norwegian immigrants. He attended Luther College where he earned his BA in chemistry in 1953 then his PhD in biochemistry from the University of Iowa in 1957. Ralph and Donna were high school sweethearts in Glenwood and attended Luther College together. While Ralph worked on his doctorate in Iowa City, Donna taught in Duluth, MN. Ralph married his "bride", as he called Donna until his last breath, on July 2, 1955 in Glenwood.

Following graduation Ralph assumed a position with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN where the couple raised their four children, Mark (Jenny decd) (Scandia, MN), Peter (Nancy) (Schoolcraft, MI), Jon (Jennie) (Harker Heights, TX) and Susan (Thomas) (Cedar Rapids, IA).

Ralph's career at the Mayo Clinic included establishing and overseeing a laboratory focusing on lipids and lipoproteins, where he was acutely involved in research on risk factors for development of coronary heart disease. His work includes extensive publication in that area. Other areas of lab development and publication include the disease of porphyria and vitamin research. Ralph also held the position of Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. Following his retirement from the Mayo Clinic in 2003, Ralph served as biochemist for Pharmaceutical Specialties, Inc., a Rochester-based manufacturer of skin care lotions, where he worked on development of products free of chemical irritants.

Ralph was a skilled craftsman and had a great appreciation for nature. He loved listening to classical music and attending concerts with Donna, attending concerts Donna performed in as a classical vocalist, as well as concerts his children and grandchildren performed in. Even into his 90s Ralph would place a call to children and grandchildren and play 'Happy Birthday' on his trumpet. He was a faithful servant of God, and long-time member of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, where he loved listening to the choir (including Donna) and playing his trumpet in the ensemble at Easter. A soft-spoken man, one of his most calming activities was the photography of flowers.

Ralph is survived by one sister, his four children, eleven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Arrangements for a celebration of his life will be made at a later date. Ralph has donated his body to the Mayo Clinic for research purposes and the ashes of his remains will be placed upon his bride's grave. Soli Deo gloria!

Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home is honored to be serving the Ellefson family. To share a special memory or condolence, please visit www.ranfranzandvinefh.com

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Ralph Ellefson, please visit our flower store.

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