Posted by: Michelle Knoll | October 21, 2010

Living What He Loved

“Wanna go to Ralph’s?”

“Yeah!  Ralph’s run!”

Late at night, in the middle of studying for exams, there was nothing better than walking across campus and through town, to make a “Ralph’s run.”  Even in the winter time, college students would brave the icy streets, just to make a trip to Ralph’s.

After all, the place was open 24 hours a day, and the donuts couldn’t be beat.  The minute you walked in the door…. mmmmmm. Flavors floated through the air.

There were more kinds of donuts than I can remember.  My favorites my freshman year in college were cake donuts, the butter twists, and the ones with maple-flavored icing.  Later on, I decided that I like cream-cheese filled donuts, but I usually didn’t get many of those.  So rich.

And then there were the chocolate eclairs.  Oh my….

My junior year, I lived in one dorm with a group of girls that had a tradition: if you wanted to be a part of their group, you had to “become a woman.”  This entailed eating at least three of Ralph’s chocolate eclairs, without getting sick.  It was quite a challenge, but I passed.  I can still remember that night, sitting there, finishing off the last one.  What a moment!

I was in that town just a year ago, and stopped by to purchase a dozen donuts.  True, it didn’t help my diet any, but it sure helped my spirit.  There was just something about seeing that place again, tasting the yummy goodness again, remembering some of the better moments of college life… again.

I never knew Ralph.  A lot of the kids from Tech got to know him, and would stop by to talk with him.  I never got that chance.  But there is one thing I know about him:  he lived what he loved.

He loved making donuts.  And he did it well.  But not only that, he loved people, and his place was a great place for fun, fellowship, and food.  And his store carried on an age-old tradition: service with a smile.

He did… what I want to do: live what I love.  Be what I am.  Walk in my passion, in my dream, in my place.  See, I was told in high school, “oh, stop worrying.  You can be anything you want to be!”  But the point is, I don’t want to be just anything.  I want to be what I’m called to be.

Ralph could have been anything he wanted to be, but he wasn’t just anything.  I believe with all my heart, he was what he was called to be: he was the donut man.

Ralph’s Donuts

You know what?  I feel a trip to Tennessee coming on.  In honor of Ralph, I just might go buy me a dozen.

But probably no chocolate eclairs… 🙂


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