ICS Magazine

Celebration of a Life Well Lived: In Memory of Ralph Bloss (1923 – 2003)

June 17, 2003
On April 24, 2003 Ralph Bloss was laid to rest in Estes Park, Colo., a place he called his “slice of heaven on earth.” It was a funeral, and of course there was sadness and tears, including my own. But this was not a somber occasion; it was more of a celebration of a life that was well lived in every way.

The service began with a video of his nearly 80 years. There were pictures of Ralph’s many career achievements and special moments with his family, including his wife Anjunell; sons Doyle and Greg, with whom he worked side by side; daughter Sharolyn; and seven grandchildren and friends. Ralph and Anjunell enjoyed a more than 52-year love affair.

Ralph Bloss, who came to work for Steam Way International in 1972 and later purchased the company in 1982, became a patriarch of the carpet cleaning and restoration industry. Few have done as much for the advancement of education in this field. During this time, Ralph was recognized with the highest honors, respectively, from14 regional and national trade associations. Ralph truly loved his customers, his vendors and even his competitors. Ralph gave encouragement to everyone he came in contact with. Ralph engendered the words customer service. An industry speaker at countless conventions and industry events, perhaps his best-known quote was “Change is inevitable; growth is optional.”

In addition to his well-known industry accolades, Ralph worked equally hard to promote Christian ministries in Colorado and beyond. He personally helped to send hundreds of kids to camp and although not ordained, was considered a “minister to ministers” as told to me by one of the 15 ministers that came to memorialize Ralph from various parts of the country.

Among the eulogies given by family and close friends from the industry and the church were these words from Doyle: “The day after Ralph died, I tried to find one thing that I could keep as a memento, one thing that I could hold or look at to remember dad, but I could not.

“As I continued to look and think, I become very frustrated and even angry, as I could not find one single thing that dad held dear. He did not collect coins, stamps or trinkets. He had no hobbies. Then, the light went on. What I realized was that the “thing” was me, the “thing” was you. Ralph collected relationships. Relationships with family, customers, industry peers, fellow parishioners, and friends,” Doyle said.

Whether you are a Steam Way customer or have never purchased a Steam Way product, whether you are an IICRC Master cleaner or have never taken an IICRC course, whether you are a veteran of 30 years or just beginning a carpet cleaning business, you have been affected by Ralph Bloss. His tireless efforts to promote the IICRC, our trade and to provide education have made this a better industry for all.

Each and every member of the Bloss family told me that Ralph’s greatest hope was to celebrate his 80th birthday at Connections 2003, and how all of them, Ralph’s grandchildren in tow, were going to Las Vegas. Now, instead of hosting a celebration of his 80th birthday, Connections 2003 will be in memory of Ralph Bloss, a tribute well deserved.

I will personally miss the “hello, better-looking-than-I-am-and-a-whole-lot-younger” personal greeting and the phone call asking me if this is “the man of good looks, distinction and integrity” with his distinctive southern drawl. No matter how many times I heard these words, delivered the same way almost each and every time, I knew that they were genuine and from the heart. Every conversation, he reminded me that he loved me like I was one of his own kids, and reminded me that the cabin in Estes Park was always available.

The industry will miss Ralph Bloss, but don’t be sad. Be happy, as he would want you to be. The industry will be forever changed by his passing, as it was by his living, and we who took heed of Ralph’s guidance and teachings have grown.