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Male, US, born 1911-06-03, died 1971-04-10

Associated with the firms network

Decker and Christenson, Architects; Decker, Christenson and Kitchin, Architects and Engineers; Decker, Christenson and Smith, Architects; Decker, Kolb and Stansfield, Architects; Decker, Ralf E., Architect; McClelland and Jones, Architects


Professional History

Résumé

Draftsman, J. Lister Holmes, Architect, Seattle, WA.

Draftsman, McClelland and Jones, Architects, Seattle, WA, c. 1936-1941. (See R.L. Polk and Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1936, p. 452, R.L. Polk and Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1937, p. 421 and R.L. Polk and Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1941, p. 427.)

Senior Draftsman, Young and Richardson, Architects, Seattle, WA.

Principal, Ralf E. Decker, Architect, Seattle, WA, 1941- . He had an office at 1411 4th Avenue, Room #1406, in 1943.

Partner, Decker, [Waldo B] Christenson and [H.H.] Smith, Architects, Seattle, WA, c. 1948. Decker, Christenson and Smith had an office at 1411 4th Avenue, Room #1406. (See R.L. Polk and Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1948, p. 328.)

Partner, Decker and Christenson, Architects, Seattle, WA, 1950-1955. Between 1951 and 1955, Decker and Christenson operated at 1411 4th Avenue, Room #1407. (See R.L. Polk and Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1951, p. 315 and R.L. Polk and Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1955, p. 347.)

Partner, Decker, Christenson and Kitchin, Architects and Engineers, Seattle, WA, 1956-1958. This firm continued to lease office space at 1411 4th Avenue. It switched to Office #810. (See R.L. Polk and Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1956, p. 343 and R.L. Polk and Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1958, p. 357.) Waldo B. Christenson died in 1959.

Principal, Ralf E. Decker, AIA, Architect, Seattle, WA, 1959-1967. (See R.L. Polk and Company's Seattle City Directory, 1959, p. 387.)

Partner, Decker, [Keith] Kolb and [Jack] Stansfield, Architects, Seattle, WA, 1967-1971.

Professional Service

Completed 15-week course, Camouflage School, Camouflage Division, Office of Civilian Defense, University of Washington, 10-12/1942.

Member, American Institute of Architects (AIA).

First Vice-President, AIA, Washington State Chapter, c. 1953.

President, University of Washington (UW) Architectural Alumni Association, 1956.

When surveyed in 1962 and 1970, Decker indicated that he was a Registered Architect in the States of AK, ID, OR, and WA.

Decker served on the State of Washington Architectural Registration Board, 1965-1970.

Education

College

B.Arch., University of Washington (UW), Seattle, WA, 1935. He belonged the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity at UW.

The American Architects Directory, 1962, indicated that Decker graduated from UW in 1935. The R.L. Polk and Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1935, (p. 451), indicated that he was still a student.

Personal

Relocation

Ralf E. Decker was born in Duluth, MN. His father Frank Decker died when Ralf was five, in 1916, in a Duluth rail yard accident. The 1920 US Census, showed that Ralf and his younger brother Darold Decker lived with their widowed mother Minnie on Hutchinson Road in Duluth. Minnie's life in 1920 was undoubtedly stressful. She had a job as an inspector at a garment factory, likely low-wage, and also had to raise two young boys on her own. The census did not know whether she owned the house that they lived in or not. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation: Year: 1920; Census Place: Duluth, St Louis, Minnesota; Roll: T625_859; Page: 20B; Enumeration District: 126, accessed 11/20/2020.)

Minnie Decker also died at a young age, at 42 in 1931, requiring that Ralf and Darold be taken in by relatives. When the US Census was taken in 04/1930, the two boys lived with their paternal grandparents, Benjamin Decker (born 02/01/1858 in WI-d. 12/07/1943 in Ross Point, ID) and his wife Mary Thramer Decker (born c. 1861 in OH) in Post Falls, ID, near Coeur d'Alene, ID. His grandparents’ farm was located in the Post Falls, ID, Irrigated Tract, on the town's RFD Route #2, in 10/1940.

In 1935, Decker's permanent residence was listed as Coeur d'Alene, ID. (See University of Washington, Tyee Yearbook, 1935, p. 45.)

Decker lived a remarkably stable life, without much changing of jobs or residential addresses.

He was a student in 1935, and lived at 4546 15th Avenue NE near the University of Washington, from which he graduated in that year. (See R.L. Polk and Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1935, p. 451.) He relocated to 4547 19th Avenue NE by 1936. (See R.L. Polk and Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1936, p. 452.)

After his marriage in 04/1936, Decker and his wife found an apartment at 524 Boylston Avenue North, Unit #306, in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. (See R.L. Polk and Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1937, p. 421 and R.L. Polk and Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1938, p. 389.)

They moved toSeattle's Maple Leaf section, to a dwelling at1241 East 89th Street by 1939. (SeeR.L. Polk and Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1939, p. 371.)The US Census indicated that their dwelling had an estimated value of $5,500, a little above average for the neighborhood at the time. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation: Year: 1940; Census Place: Maple Leaf, King, Washington; Roll: m-t0627-04345; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 17-121, accessed 11/19/2020.) Ralf and Elizabeth Decker continued to reside at this location between 1941 and 1951, at least. (See R.L. Polk and Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1941, p. 411 andR.L. Polk and Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1951, p. 315.)

By 1953, the Deckers had moved from their long-time residence in Maple Leaf to 6015 Keswick Drive in Seattle, and remained here in 1960. (SeeR.L. Polk and Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1953, p. 341 andR.L. Polk and Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1960, p. 391.)

Ralf Decker died at age 60 of a heart attack.

Parents

His father was Frank Jacob Decker (born c. 08/1890 in ND-d. 10/26/1916 in Saint Louis County, MN). On his father's side, his great grandfather Nicholas Decker, Sr., had immigrated to the US from Luxembourg in 1852, becoming an early white settler in Superior, WI, and later in Duluth by 1865. His great grandmother, Mary Unden, came from Germany and wed Nicholas in 1856. By 1875, Nicholas Decker was a leading figure in town, operating a brewery and serving in a number of political roles, as town supervisor, county commissioner and alderman. He died of tuberculosis in 1875, leaving Mary to raise four children. Two sons, Nicholas, Jr., and Benjamin, made efforts to run their father's brewery, but they sold it early on, and the latter found some success working as a farmer, feeding the fast-growing mining and lumber town of Duluth. Benjamin's farm was located in Hermantown, a rural settlement 7 and 1/2 miles northwest of Duluth. A road leading from Benjamin's farm, Decker Road, connected outlying farms with the City of Duluth, becaming a main thoroughfare.

Frank Decker was the youngest of six children raised on Benjamin's farm. He married Wilhelmina "Minnie" Anna Janzig (born c. 01/1889 in MN-d. 06/08/1931 in Saint Louis County, MN) on 01/10/1911 in Saint Louis County, MN. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation Minnesota Association of County Officers; Saint Paul, Minnesota; Minnesota Official Marriage System, accessed 11/20/2020.)

Benjamin Decker absorbed two shocks in 1916 and 1918 that impelled him to move from the Duluth area to Idaho. The Duluth writer Heidi Bakk-Hansen wrote on Zenith City Press.com: “Benjamin Decker (who like his father married a girl named Mary) lived with his large family up on Decker Road running the farm and greenhouse until two tragedies struck in quick succession. The first was the 1916 loss of his 26-year-old youngest son Frank, who was crushed to death in a rail yard accident. The second was the Fire of 1918, which burned the family business to the ground. Soon thereafter, the family moved to Idaho, never to return.” (See Heidi Bakk-Hansen, Zenith Press.com, “Nicholas & Benjamin Decker,” accessed 11/20/2020.) Benjamin and his family remained in Duluth according to the 1920 US Census, but relocated to farming in the Coeur d'Alene area sometime during the 1920s. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation: Year: 1920; Census Place: Duluth, St Louis, Minnesota; Roll: T625_859; Page: 20B; Enumeration District: 126, accessed 11/20/2020.)

In 1906, Minnie Janzig resided at 516 Lake Avenue North in Duluth, and worked as a domestic servant. (See R.L. Polk and Company's Duluth, Minnesota, City Directory, 1906, p. 424.) By 1910, she had moved back with her parents on the family farm in Hermantown. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Herman, Saint Louis, Minnesota; Roll: T624_723; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0214; FHL microfilm: 1374736, accessed 11/20/2020.)

Minnie’s parents William Janzig (born c. 07/1857 in Germany) and Wilhelmina (born c. 11/1859 in Germany) had worked at the family agricultural enterprise near Hermantwon, MN, since at least 1895. (See Ancestry.com, Source Information: MInnesota, U.S., Territorial and State Censuses, 1849-1905 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007, accessed 11/20/2020.) William came to the US in 1882, according to the 1910 US Census, and Wilhelmina in 1885. They married c. 1890, and had six children together, five of whom survived in 1910. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Herman, Saint Louis, Minnesota; Page: 10; Enumeration District: 0251; FHL microfilm: 1240789, accessed 11/20/2020, and Ancestry.com, Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Herman, Saint Louis, Minnesota; Roll: T624_723; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0214; FHL microfilm: 1374736, accessed 11/20/2020.)

Ralf's brother Darold Benjamin Decker (born 05/08/1914 in Duluth, MN-d. 08/16/1977 in San Diego County, CA) worked for the Washington Atlee Burpee Company in San Diego, CA, on 10/16/1940. Darold listed his grandparent, Benjamin Decker, as his emergency contact on his World War II draft card. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation: The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for California, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 437, accessed 11/20/2020.)

Spouse

Ralf Decker married Elizabeth Martha Hill (born 11/14/1910 in Seattle, WA-d. 01/05/2003 in Seattle, WA) in Seattle, WA, on 04/18/1936. They married in the Rectory of Saint Anne's Church, Seattle. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation: Washington State Archives; Olympia, Washington; Washington Marriage Records, 1854-2013; Reference Number: kingcoarchmcvol56_801, accessed 11/19/2020.)

Both Ralf and his wife had completed five years of college, according to the 1940 US Census. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation: Year: 1940; Census Place: Maple Leaf, King, Washington; Roll: m-t0627-04345; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 17-121, accessed 11/19/2020.)

Her parents were John T. Hill (born c. 1867-d. 01/06/1940 in Seattle, WA) and Isabel E. Turner (born c. 1881-d. 02/04/1961).

Children

The architect Jon Hill Decker (b. 1941) was the son of Ralf and Elizabeth Hill Decker. They also had a daughter, Mary Decker (born c. 07/1939 in WA).

Biographical Notes

His World War II draft registration card of 10/16/1940 described Decker as Caucasian with a light complexion, standing 5-feet, 9-inches tall and weighing 190 pounds., He had hazel eyes and black hair, with a scar on his left eyebrow. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation: The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; WWII Draft Registration Cards for Washington, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 42, accessed 11/20/2020.)

In 1964, Decker and his wife took a trip to Brazil. (See Ancestry.com, Source Information: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016, accessed 11/20/2020.)

SSN: 534-09-6379.



Associated Locations

  • Duluth, MN (Architect's Birth)
    Duluth, MN

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PCAD id: 2614