Ralph Pred

Ralph Pred

July 9, 1939 – May 15, 2012

Ralph Pred passed away, unexpectedly and without suffering, Tuesday, May 15, in the presence of his wife.

A philosopher, scholar, activist, author, and community organizer, his was a life of books, deep listening, thoughtful conversation, and mindful walking among the flowers, trees and birds. Kind, careful and gentle, yet not afraid to stand for what he knew to be right, Ralph was a private man who is dearly missed by his family and all who knew and loved him.

Born in the Bronx in 1939, influenced by his father’s linguistic skills, his mother’s musicianship, and the death of a great aunt in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, Ralph set upon a path of social justice and life-long learning. After attending Bronx Science High School, Ralph’s passion for illuminating the mysteries of experience led to studies at Antioch, NYU, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Driven by his underlying devotion to the potential of humanity and a better future for generations, Ralph took a break from university studies to work in numerous community organization initiatives, notably as director of poverty programs in Boston and Cape Cod, and spent several summers as counsellor, then director of a children’s summer camp in Massachusetts.

Ralph returned to school in 1975, earning a masters degree at San Francisco State, and later, a PhD in Philosophy from UC Berkeley. His thesis contained the seeds of his later independent scholarship, where his enduring alignment with the work of Alfred North Whitehead and William James would bloom.

In 1990, Ralph relocated from Berkeley to the south end of Salt Spring Island with his wife Mallory, and their son, Noah. During this period he worked variously as a consultant and technical writer for PARC and EPRI. Over the years, Ralph made many contributions to the local community; his reverence for Gulf Island ecology and its natural beauty lead to his active engagement in preservation of the island’s habitat, inhabitants and culture.

The culmination of decades of scholarship, study and rigorous observation, Ralph’s book Onflow: Dynamics of Consciousness and Experience – his treatise on an unbroken, process-oriented account of experience – was published by MIT Press in 2005.

A lover of nature, music and the arts, he could often be found hiking the wilderness of the south end, finding minute wildflowers through every flowing path of his beloved hills. Practicing astronomy, absorbing poetry, playing basketball, listening to jazz, backpacking in the wild, engaging with children, and revelling late into the night with friends, Ralph’s interests were wide-ranging and expansive. Mallory’s drumming and Noah’s development as musician, DJ and composer brought him particular joy, and his enthusiastic dancing will be fondly remembered.

Ralph leaves behind his loving wife of 38 years, his son, and a large extended family in Berkeley and New York, including his stepson Martin Jones and wife Suzanne, his sister Suzanne Pred Bass and brother-in-law Lane Bass, his sisters-in-law Linda and Hjordis, nieces Michele, Emily, Becky, and Willa, nephews Joseph and Tobias, grand-nieces Linnea and Emma, and his grand-nephew Sebastian. Ralph’s brother Allan, with whom he was very close in thought and feeling, passed before him in 2007.

With an open, generous heart and inquisitive mind, Ralph’s connections were deep and true. Onflowing, ever-changing, he joins the infinite.

Ralph’s family invites you to join them on Sunday, June 3, 4PM at Beaver Point Hall, for a celebration of his life and a potluck feast.

You ask

why I perch

on a jade green mountain?

I laugh

but say nothing

my heart

free

like a peach blossom

in the flowing stream

going by

in another world

not among men

– Li Po

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