RemembEring ralph groener


Founding Board of Education member, former legislator and longtime community leader Ralph Groener passed away June 1. Ralph is the father of Board of Education member Chris Groener. He served on the CCC board from 1971 to 1983. A memorial service will be held Thursday, June 30, at 1 p.m. in the Gregory Forum on Clackamas Community College's Oregon City campus. The public is invited to attend. The Groener family would like any memorial gifts to go to a scholarship in Ralph's name here at the college. Thank you for honoring Ralph as his family establishes an endowment in his memory. You can find a contribution form below. Cash/Check donations can also be made in memory of Ralph and can be paid to the attention of the CCC Foundation with “Ralph Groener Memorial” in the memo. Donations can be mailed to CCC Foundation, 19600 Molalla Ave., Oregon City, OR 97045 

Theodore Ralph Groener was a Christmas baby, born Dec . 25, 1941,  to George Groner and Mary (McKee) Groner in Oregon City, Oregon. He attended local schools and graduated from West Linn High School in 1960. He spent four years in the U.S. Air Force and was awarded the Airman’s medal for heroism.

In 1965 he married Sharon Rich, of Oregon City. They moved to Eugene, where Ralph attended and graduated from the University of Oregon. While in college, Ralph worked part-time at a local Safeway, and became a member of the retail clerk’s union. Upon graduation in 1969 he worked as a community organizer for the war on poverty, taking his first steps on a lifelong pathway fighting for the underprivileged and working man.

Ralph loved to talk. He could out-talk anyone, anytime, anywhere. That trait served him well as he followed in his uncle’s footsteps, Oregon State Sen. Richard Groener, and embarked on a lifelong career involving politics. Ralph was elected to the state legislature in 1972. He served two terms in the Oregon House of Representatives. Along with his uncle, former Gov. Tom McCall and several other lawmakers, Ralph supported and was instrumental in passing Oregon’s landmark land conservation legislation as the bill’s carrier on the House floor in 1973. Ralph was then elected to the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, where he served tirelessly for eight years advocating both for children and senior citizens in particular.

Following an unsuccessful run for Oregon’s statewide Labor Commissioner position, in 1987 Ralph began a 31-year career as a political coordinator and lobbyist for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). For over three decades Ralph was a constant and uplifting presence at the state capitol. A familiar sight (and sound) roaming the halls of the building, he and his long-time colleague Mary Botkin were twice voted as the most effective lobby team by the Oregon Capitol Club. Ralph retired from AFSCME in 2018, but fervently continued his advocacy until his death.

Ralph passed away on June 1, 2022, ultimately losing a dogged fight to cancer. He is survived by his wife, Sharon; daughter Hilary Groener; son Chris Groener; and granddaughter Cassidy Hedger and her husband, Corey Hedger. Also surviving Ralph are 3 siblings: brothers Robert Groner of Molalla, OR; Elmer Groener of Bend, OR; sister Mary McLaskey of Richmond, VA; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. One brother, George Groner preceded Ralph in death. Ralph is also survived by literally hundreds of friends and colleagues from the union, political and legislative world.


Thank you to those who have donated in Ralph's memory

Mary Botkin - "Ralph was my fried and colleague for 30 years at AFSCME. We were a team every day working for the members who depended on us to make sure their voices were heard. He had my back every day. Thank you for your dedicated work and friendship. I will miss you." 

Sara Dier

Margaret Doherty

Chris Groener

Lisa Grove - "His belief in me made a profound difference in the trajectory of my career. And his smile could make the dreariest day a whole lot brighter. He will be missed but his impact lives on."

Lori Hall

Senator Bill & Cherie Kennemer - "Ralph, you always made our days brighter..."

Matt and Debbie Markee

Mark Meek - "Ralph, you are a pure inspiration and a great example of how to truly be a leader in our community. With great love to all who loved you."

Mary McLaskey - "For the best "little brother" a girl could have. Will miss all our talks and discussions. Love you always." 

Tim and Sue McLaskey - "Thanks Uncle Ralph for teaching me the ins and outs of the political world. They lost the best when they lost you. Love always."

Scott Parker 

Tom Richards - "Thanks to Ralph for his years of service to CCC and all our public employees. It was an honor knowing him." 

Chuck and Katie Riley

Bing Wong

Christi Young


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