Avella, Ralph Sr. formerly of Brooklyn and Staten Island, NY. sadly passed away on June 12 th at
the age of 78 quickly after an undiagnosed illness.
The eldest of two boys, he was born on March 21 st , 1945, to the late Andrew and Filippa Avella
in Brooklyn. He was also preceded in death by his younger brother Anthony Avella (Maureen).
He very much enjoyed his memories of growing up Italian in Bensonhurst, playing sports, going
to Brooklyn Tech H.S. and working in Coney Island at the Parachute jump.
He is survived by his teenage sweetheart and wife of 61 years, Joanne. Ralph was a devoted
father and grandfather. He is survived by a daughter Athena “Tina” Roesler, his two sons,
Andrew, and Ralph Jr. as well as two grandchildren, Athena and Raymond Roesler.
Ralph was the consummate hardworking family man. He enlisted at age 17 in the US Air Force
after graduating HS 2 years early. He was stationed in Germany and worked with the nuclear
munitions of the F105 Thunderchief Aircraft. His family could spend hours recalling the
numerous stories he told of the various part-time, extra jobs he had through the years starting
at 12 years old delivering dry-cleaning on his bicycle to washing dishes, working the night shift
driving a taxi, back-office clerking on Wall St, sales in the toy department at Christmas, a 5 year
stint as a Lieutenant in the Army Reserves and delivering fried chicken.
In 1967 Ralph would find his true calling and enlist to be a NYPD Officer. While working as a
cop, to support his family, he would concurrently obtain his bachelor’s degree from the John
Jay College of Criminal Justice and his Juris Doctor from Fordham Law school. The first wave of
his career life would include an escalation from patrolman to law clerk for the Trial
Commissioner and ultimately Sergeant of the 70th Precinct in Brooklyn. This was all while
simultaneously maintaining a private practice as an attorney. His law clients were lucky to be
represented by someone incredibly diligent, smart, knowledgeable, and caring. However, it
was through his relationships at the NYPD that he made some of his best friends and fondest
In 1984 Ralph retired and his family made the big move out West to Tucson. Too young to
actually be retired, Ralph wound end up once again back in an area he knew and respected:
Law Enforcement. He worked as a Unit Supervisor for the Pima County Probation Department
for close to 20 years where his straightforward honesty and professionalism garnered the
respect and admiration of many of his peers. He was known for taking his staff under his wing
and coaching them to achieve their personal best.
Throughout his entire life Ralph was known to all as a sincere “straight shooter.” You always
knew exactly where you stood with him. While he was never one to suffer fools gladly, if you
found yourself in his circle of trust, then there was little he would not do for you.
When he delved into a hobby he was single-minded for a time and became very accomplished.
The consummate DIY guy, he remodeled multiple houses and even got his contractor’s license
to partner in new construction endeavors. His musical heart belonged predominately to Doo
Wop music and his cataloged music collection is extensive. He was an avid reader, personal
investor, and student of politics. He had read through thousands of titles on his e-reader in
recent years. Also, as an accomplished photographer, he was often on the sidelines at his
grandchildren’s sporting events capturing the action. He raised the nicest of tropical fish,
played the card game Euchre with a passion and was an avid pool player. His card playing
friends and pool teammates at Clicks tremendously enriched his final retirement years.
Ralph and Joanne shared a lifelong love for travel. The two would give in to their wanderlust for
the entirety of their time together traveling to all ends of the planet on adventures. Starting
from their time in Germany 60 years ago all the way to a trip to Hawaii just a few months ago.
They would never stay idle and visited all the world’s continents. Ralph listed Japan and Russia
among his favorite destinations.
Ralph will be missed tremendously. He was a commanding presence, dedicated, and generous.
In humility he wished for a private cremation and no service. In lieu of flowers donations in his
name can be made to his chosen charity the Gospel Rescue Mission to support their exemplary
work at the men’s shelter on Palo Verde. The family gives our sincere thanks to all those that
have shared their thoughts and prayers.
As Ralph would always sign off: “Be Good.”