Ralph E. Gushee of Fryeburg, ME passed away with family by his side on October 7, 2020. Born on September 18, 1936 at home on his family’s dairy farm in East Conway, NH to Raymond and Helen (Webster) Gushee, Ralph graduated from Fryeburg Academy in 1954 and went on to graduate from Thompson School of Agriculture at UNH with an Associate Degree in Animal Science. Ralph married Elaine Bennett in 1957 and together they had five children.
Ralph was a man who lived life his way, wearing many hats. Best known for his work with dairy and beef cattle across the United States and Canada, Ralph worked with many folks like Mike Wilson, Steve Briggs and family, Bill Briggs, Jimmy Brewster, Don Buzzell, Gordie Dema, Bob Lord, Scott Hussey, Dave Younger, Wayne Sliker, Barrie Potter, George Liberty, Frank Lowell, Pete Heffering, Buddy Fleming, Bruce Haley, Ken Fowler, Pete Zacharias, Pudge Caverly, Rod Rankin, Tom Breakell, Doug Seidel, Dave Keizer, John Hill, Ernie Kueffner, and Terri Packard, and so many more. He worked and shared his knowledge at farms such as Evergreen Valley Farms, Juniper Farms, McGee Farms, and Bartlett Island Farms.
Throughout his lifetime, Ralph worked with Bill Baker and Ted Langdell Auctions and Hanover Hills Sales and Service, fitting cattle and working as a “Ring Man”. He worked the Dream Street Sale in Syracuse, NY, where the first record cow was sold. He worked for Brigeen Farms, Turner, ME, and worked with Jack Decoster. Ralph moved to Farmington, ME in the late 1970’s and started his own Pro Fitting and Cattle hauling business. He worked at Arethusa Farm in Litchfield, CT for many years in various capacities. His favorite part of working there was working with the world-famous Jersey cow, Veronica. Ralph also found time to be a member of the North Fryeburg Fire Department from the mid 1960’s through early 1970’s.
Ralph fitted and showed animals all across the US and Canada, from the Maine Fairs, Maine State Dairy Show, CT Black and White Show, Eastern States Expositions, World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI, the Royal Winter Show, Toronto, CAN, and more. He showed in Harrisburg, PA, Louisville, KY, and Timonium, MD. While working at Buzzell Brothers Herefords he showed Registered Horned Herefords across the United States, and also showed Registered Herefords for Powisset Farms and Millborn Farms, riding a boxcar with cattle between Waterloo and Chicago.
Ralph loved cattle. He loved to share his knowledge with his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and all those he met along the way. He was a 4-H leader for many years mentoring many 4-H members on the feeding, caring, washing and fitting of their animals, and taught them how to correctly show them. Ralph started the Oxford County 4-H Beef Club and was one of the founders of the National Belted Galloway sale being held with the Maine Beef Expo. All of Ralph’s children and grandchildren followed in his footsteps showing and fitting cattle at some point in their lives.
Along the way, Ralph helped with classifications and taking pictures of cattle in the U.S. He was featured on the cover of Holstein World, January 10, 1967, and received the Klussendorf-MacKenzie Award at World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI in 2006. He also was the first recipient of the New England Holstein Association Caregiver Award in 2017. Ralph is a member of the Eastern States Dairy Hall of Fame and was elected to the Maine Beef Producers Hall of Fame in 2016.
Cattle wasn’t Ralph’s only interest by far. He also worked for Maine Maple Products with Raymond Titcomb. Ralph entered his syrup one year at Toronto’s Winter Royal and was awarded Reserve Grand Champion in Maple Syrup.
While in his 70s, Ralph left Arethusa Farm to return home to Fryeburg. He went to work for Fryeburg Fair in the Maintenance Department mowing and keeping up the grounds during the spring and summer months, and then cleanup and putting the Fair to bed for the winter. Ralph loved Fryeburg Fair and took pride in his work there. During “Fair Week”, Ralph could be found working at the end of the pulling ring at his spot dubbed “The Perch”. There he made sure that oxen and draft horses were able to cross safely and that no visitors to Fryeburg Fair got hurt. Ralph, while in hospice, managed to still “participate” in Fryeburg Fair, keeping up on the beef auction and such. More recently, Ralph could be found working with George Liberty, who held a very important spot in Ralph’s heart, at George’s Juniper Farm in Gray, ME.
Ralph lived a full life. He worked hard right up to the end. He loved what he did, and shared what he learned. Gone is “The Best Cattleman that anyone will ever know” but the lessons and stories he shared with us all will carry on for generations to come.
He is survived by his children: Cindy Gushee of Harwich, MA, Joline Gushee (Tim) of Freedom, NH, Diane Gushee of Fryeburg, ME, Stephen Gushee (wife Celeste) of Boyce, VA, and Barbara Gushee of Fryeburg, ME.; grandchildren Raymond Gushee (fiancé Roslynn) of Waxahachie, TX, Hattie Blye (husband Ricky) of Albion, ME, and PJ Clair of Fryeburg, ME., Shannon Bussard and Spencer Bussard, VA., his great grandchildren Bowen and Brock Blye who he cherished spending time with. Sisters Mona Dodd (companion Bill Phipps) of Yarmouth, ME and Lee Ann Vokey (husband Harry) of Westbrook, ME., and by his special Aunt Louise. Extended family members Randy and Rodney Hall of East Dixfield, ME, Meg Hall, Caleb Hall, and Amanda Hall, Kyle Jenson, Ashley Field, and many other step grandchildren, great grandchildren, and step great great grandchildren, along with nieces and nephews.
Ralph was predeceased by his parents and stepmother Lena, Elaine B. Gushee, his brother Bill, sister Carol, longtime partner Polly Hall, and his great grandson Noah Ralph Blye.
Ralph’s family would like to thank Dr. Rausch and staff, M1 Cancer Floor and Intensive Care Unit at Central Maine Medical Center, Bridgton Hospital ER, and Mary Fernald, Androscoggin Home Health and Androscoggin Hospice Health of Auburn.
They would like to also say thank you to all who visited and called Ralph and his family during this time. The memories and photos that are being shared are greatly appreciated. A Celebration of life will be held in the spring.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Ralph Gushee Memorial Scholarship. Mail to: Ralph Gushee Memorial Scholarship c/o Barbara Gushee 68 Portland St., Fryeburg, ME 04037.