Ralph Richard (Rich) Hedrick was born in the home of his parents in the town of Collegeville-Trappe, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. The small college town houses Ursinis College and is located just to the west of Philadelphia. His birth certificate shows he was born on December 10, 1934 and his parents were Ralph Clifford Hedrick, Jr. and Elizabeth Ross. The family stayed in Collegeville for approximately four years and then moved to Downingtown, Chester County, Pennsylvania. He attended the Downingtown, public schools from first grade through twelfth grade, having graduated in 1952.
He joined the United States Navy on June 20th that same year.
Following Boot Camp in Bainbridge, Maryland he was stationed in Little Creek, Virginia with the amphibious force. His first ship was the USS Muliphen, AKA 67. His billet was as a Quartermaster Signalman. After two years he transferred to the USS Taconic, 17.
The USS Taconic was commissioned on January 17, 1946 and was named after the Taconic Mountains in New York. The Taconic was designed as an amphibious force flagship, a floating command post with advanced communications equipment and extensive combat information spaces to be used by the amphibious force commander and landing force commander during large-scale operations. The Taconic was decommissioned on December 17, 1969.
The ship became the Flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet and was docked at Naples, Italy where he served for two years until he was discharged in November 1955 as a Quartermaster S2.
As was always his plan (to become a teacher) he attended Millersville Pennsylvania State (one of fourteen teacher’s colleges in Pennsylvania.) He began his college career in January 1956 and graduated in the Summer of 1959.
After finishing his obligatory two years of teaching in the state he then enrolled at Penn State University and received his Masters Degree in Education in August 1963. He moved with his family to West Hartford, Connecticut where he taught for three years. During the stay in West Hartford the following occurred:
He became a principal, received a sabbatical leave and attended The Teachers College at Columbia where he received a second Masters Degree this time specializing in Human Resources. Upon his return he became the town of West Hartford’s first director of personnel.
He remained in that position until he took a similar position with the town of Greenwich. That position lasted a relatively short time when he was offered a position in the private sector as a General Manager for Chrysler Corporation’s Rental Car Division.
The new position took him to San Diego, California where he became General Manager. He held that position for three years until he was promoted to Director of Human Resources, and transferred to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where the corporate offices were located. He held that position until the Rental Car Division was closed.
He then moved to California to be closer to his daughter, Jill, and her husband and his first granddaughter.
His final career took place in the Napa Valley. He worked in the tasting room at Frank Family Vineyards for three years until he was promoted to National Sales Manager, a position he held for two years. Frank Family Vineyards, originally named The Frank-Rombauer Winery, was the former Kornell Champagne Cellars (Napa Valley’s first Sparkling Wine House.) It was established in the early 1990s, when it was purchased by Richard Frank and Koerner Rombauer. Following a disastrous fire in 1999, it was renamed Frank Family Vineyards. (Frank’s featured wines are Cabernet, Bordeaux blends, and Chardonnay.) He then joined the newly named Bremer Family Winery where he started their tasting room. Bremer Winery was formerly known as The Deer Park Winery. It was purchased in 2003 by John and Laura Bremer. (Bremer’s featured wine is Chardonnay.) He held that position until his retirement in 2013.
Rich has published numerous articles including two on the wine industry:
“The Elusive Factor of Quality of Wine” – Published in Boca Raton Wine Column
“Bubbles + USA = Sparkling” – Published electronically in (It’s Time for Wine) and published in print in the Preiser Key (a highly regarded Napa Valley wine magazine.)
Rich and his former wife Doris have a son Todd and a daughter Jill, five grandchildren and one great grandson