Ralph Walter Seelke


Ralph Walter Seelke, 70, of Duluth, went home to be with his Redeemer and Lord on December 30, 2021, after his heart gave out while cross country skiing. Ralph was born in Murfreesboro, TN, on November 25, 1951, to John and Annamarie (Neye) Seelke. He graduated from Summerville High School in Summerville, SC, in 1969 and then completed his B.S. at Clemson University in 1973. He then spent two years in the Army on active duty and later retired from the Army Reserve in 2000. After active duty, he worked in Christian ministry in Florida, where he met his future wife, Julie Batdorf, of Mankato, MN. Ralph and Julie were married on June 11, 1977. Ralph pursued graduate studies at the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, finishing his work for a Ph.D. in microbiology in 1981 and staying at Mayo for postdoctoral work until 1983. He was a professor at various places after that and at the University of Wisconsin in Superior from 1989 until his retirement in 2014. In retirement, he taught in a service capacity for several semesters in China, Kenya, and Ethiopia, which was fulfilling work for him. Ralph and Julie raised three children together, and Ralph devoted his free time to both family and Christian service. He often said that following Jesus is the “organizing principle” of life. He was convinced that the gospel is not only true but that it is perhaps the only way of viewing the world that allows both meaning and rationality in life, so he lived his life modeling Christ’s love. He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Julie; children Andrew (Janet) of Eden Prairie, Peter of St. Paul, and Heidi (Jonathan) Seward of Waco, TX;  five grandchildren and three siblings Klaus Ruediger, Gisela Hawley, and John Seelke. . Visitation Friday, January 7, 2022, 5:00-7:00 pm at Dougherty Funeral Home (600 E 2nd St, Duluth, MN 55805). Memorial service Saturday, January 8, 2022, 11:00 am (visitation at 10:00 am) at Rock Hill Community Church (2401 W 5th St, Duluth, MN 55806). Memorials preferred to Ralph’s church, Rock Hill, or YUST PUST Foundation, an organization Ralph joyfully served. Service can be livestreamed at Rock Hill Community Church Duluth’s Facebook Page, starting at 10:55am on Saturday. Arrangements by Dougherty Funeral Home, 600 E 2nd St. Duluth, MN, (218) 727-3555. Sign the online resister book at,