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Ralph Vallone, Jr.

Died: December 19, 2011

Ralph was born in April of 1947 to Ralph Vallone, Sr. and Carmen Perez Vallone in Philadelphia, PA. He received his secondary school education at the University of Puerto Rico High School and entered Yale in the fall of 1963 as a member of the class of 1967. Ralph Vallone was 16 years old when he entered Yale, an extravagantly intelligent, precocious and overly indulged only child. He worshiped his mother, who in turn worshiped him and profoundly influenced his taste in art, music and social behavior. Ralph’s acerbic wit and occasionally tart criticism limited his circle of friends, perhaps a conscious choice on his part. Possibly dissatisfied with the social aspects of college and bored with his choice of major (Spanish Intensive Studies), he was eager to get on to the study of law. Ralph joined the class of 1966 in April of 1965. He had no difficulty making the Dean’s List in ’63-’64 and was named Ranking Scholar in the fall of ’64. He roomed alone in Silliman College, where he was Arts Festival chairman in 1965. After finishing Yale undergraduate, Ralph remained in New Haven another year during which he obtained his Masters degree in Spanish. Ralph then entered Harvard Law School in the class of 1971. Upon graduation, he opened a solo law practice; and, after a few very slow years, he began to develop a reputation for success with difficult cases. In the early 1980s he began to speculate in the N.Y.C. and Puerto Rico real estate market, which was at that time more financially rewarding than his law practice. Needing more to occupy his restless mind, Ralph bought a run-down farm in Vermont and renovated the house and the maple syrup operation, installing modern equipment and employing better marketing strategy with some success. In the early ‘90s, he sold the farm and purchased a health center in San Juan. From this he branched into a lucrative series of contracts for radiological services with the government’s State Insurance Fund and others. Still restless, in 1994 Ralph submitted a manuscript for his first novel, Second Vision, perhaps an allusion to the Book of Ezekiel, which was published by Dutton in 1994. It received some favorable reviews but was not a best seller.

Between 2005 and his death in December of 2011, Ralph developed a series of health issues culminating in an apparent fatal heart attack on a visit to New York City. Ralph led by choice a somewhat solitary life, limiting close access to a very few friends, with whom he was quite generous of his time and means.

John Westcott remembers:

Ralph Vallone died of a heart attack on a visit to New York City in December 2011. He came from Puerto Rico and returned to Puerto Rico to practice law after Yale and Harvard Law School. He was a brilliant and unique individual, who never married and was always very close to his parents.

He came to Yale two years younger than most of us, and when he was part of our senior society he had interests and experiences completely foreign to the rest of us. He played the piano and was an expert in classical music; he had the hobby of creating bonsai trees; but he sought to be one of the group and to adopt some mainstream activities. At Harvard Law School, he trained himself in rowing.

As we rekindled interest in our senior society in the last decade, Ralph was one of the chief participants, and he was set to host us in Puerto Rico a few months after his premature death. A few members of our society went to Puerto Rico anyway, in Ralph’s honor, and experienced the world Ralph was proud and eager to show us.

Today, Yale has a significant number of international students, and American students learn a lot from their cultural differences. Ralph was a forerunner of this trend at a time when Yale was a much less diverse place. He stood out for his differences, and we all learned something from being his friends. In an era of conformity, Ralph pursued a different path, and in retrospect, that must have been very difficult for him. Ralph continued all his life to do things his own way, but he was a loyal friend to us all and very proud of the very different life which he led.