Barb Ralph: CAMP Chorus VP Knows Her Numbers
As vice-president of the CAMP Rehoboth Chorus and bookkeeper/accountant for Right Property Management, Rehoboth resident Barb Ralph has perfected the art of being in multiple places at the same time. Or at least it seems that way. Whenever anybody needs help with pretty much anything, or there’s a birthday party for a friend at a local restaurant, Barb’s there.
She was born in the diminutive (6.16 square mile) Montclair Township in New Jersey, staying there through high school. He parents were active in the Montclair Operetta Club, and young Barb built her social life around helping mom and dad with the various productions. She grew up behind the scenes; assembling costumes, painting props, and helping out backstage wherever she could. “My first and last appearance in front of an audience,” she says, “was the night the lights came up too soon.” Her love for show tunes was equaled only by her appreciation for competition and sports, which drew her to the P.E. program at the University of Delaware. “I can’t go through life without playing games.” While she was in school, she agreed to help out at a camp for the handicapped, and was, in her words, “hooked after the first day.”
She spent time student-teaching at a school for the handicapped, reaching the decision that this was what she wanted to do. But in order to teach P.E. in New Castle, DE, she was required to have official certification, so she enrolled at Penn State in Therapeutic Recreation. Over the ensuing five years, Barb worked in the Specially Handicapped Adult Recreation Program at the Montclair YWCA, spearheading all sorts of interactive events for the kids. “They were used to being ignored and constantly ‘being done for.’ Our games, cooking, and singing activities made them feel useful.”
Barb Ralph’s love for games and kids was matched only by her love for numbers, so around 1977 she earned her MBA in accounting at Rutgers State University in New Jersey. After a few jobs here and there, she moved back to New Castle County where she was invited to a dinner party. A friend of the hosts was a woman named Jude. After their first date, they returned to Barb’s and played Trivial Pursuit until the wee hours. It wasn’t long after they said their goodbyes that Barb’s phone rang. She smiles, “I could talk to this woman forever.”
Jude worked for ATT in New Jersey, so in the mid-‘80s Barb moved in with her, spending the next 14 years in blissful companionship. During Barb’s tenure as the accountant for a chemical company, she volunteered to be part of the First Aid squad for the company. Another way to help people! She took an EMT class (three nights a week for 16 weeks), passed the state exams and drove an ambulance for the town for about five years. Her team was distinguished as being among the top ten responders.
But things were not responding well at home. “What had been was no more,” Barb says. The end of her relationship, coupled with the death of a friend, precipitated her eventual move to Rehoboth Beach. She worked a series of jobs, including motel auditor, and ended up in an accounting position for Casa San Francisco, the Catholic Charities’ emergency adult shelter in Milton. After a couple of years commuting to a job in Dover, the drive began to wear thin, and she said, “I’m coming home!” And Right Property Management here in Rehoboth Beach became her home.
I don’t know anybody who is unhappy here in Rehoboth Beach. And after all she’s been through, Barb Ralph loves working in property management. “I’m so happy to be there,” she says. Professional property management is all about people, diplomacy, details and numbers, and she gets to interact with the client communities by preparing and tracking their financial statements. She also handles the bookkeeping, payroll and accounting for the company itself.
Finally settled here at the beach, she once again gets to dabble in her favorite pastimes by picking up where she left off so many years ago at the Montclair Operetta Club. She combined her love for singing, her desire to help, and her organizational talents by signing up to administer the business end of the then-fledgling CAMP Rehoboth Chorus. She is now the vice president of the Chorus, with all the various committees reporting to her. Her natural talent for business and detail helps take the burden off of the music and production end of the organization. The amazing evolution of their singing and entertaining skills has to be due, at least in part, to a strong behind-the-scenes support system.
And she certainly thrives behind the scenes. Whether helping to guide handicapped kids through a difficult childhood, careening through the streets of Montclair in an ambulance, or singing in front of an audience (for real this time), Rehoboth resident Barb Ralph is always the first in line to help.
Bob Yesbek is a Rehoboth Beach resident. Email Bob Yesbek