An engineer to the end, Ralph William Kugler, who held various management jobs for Westinghouse Electric Corp. during his 30 years with the company, left nothing to chance when he died last week after a long illness.
Mr. Kugler, 82, of Mt. Lebanon, was a devout Catholic who was a member of St. Anne Church in Castle Shannon for 46 years. He left his family a strongbox containing detailed instructions on how to handle his funeral arrangements, including what versions of hymns should be sung, who should serve as pallbearers and other specific details.
"He wrote his obituary eight years ago," said Gertrude Utzig Kugler, 80, his wife of nearly 57 years. "He was a big planner, he had a list for everything."
Formerly of Mount Washington, Mr. Kugler held undergraduate and graduate degrees in mechanical engineering from Carnegie Institute of Technology and received an executive training diploma from Cornell University.
He was a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a member of the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers and the National Society of Professional Engineers.
Though originally employed by the Union Switch and Signal Division of Westinghouse Air Brake, he was granted 11 U.S. patents and several foreign patents, many related to nuclear power fuel systems, after joining Westinghouse Electric's Research and Development Center, his family said.
"He did a lot of work at home. ... He worked all weekend," said Mrs. Kugler, who first met her future husband in elementary school. "I think his work was his hobby. He liked what he was doing and that was enough for him."
His parents were born in Austria, and when Mr. Kugler started first grade, he couldn't speak English.
"They were hardworking people, and it rubbed off on him," Mrs. Kugler said.
That didn't stop him from fulfilling what he saw as his prime obligation as a father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
"He loved the children. That was the big thing," Mrs. Kugler said, adding that her husband made elaborate wooden toys for all of his children. "He liked doing things like that for the kids."
For his children, he was a steady, stable presence.
"He was very dependable. You always knew where you stood," said his son, John Kugler. "There was no question about what was right or what was wrong."
An avid baseball fan, he took the family on trips to Pirates spring training in Florida and on long weekends to Erie.
"He loved his family and we all came first," Mrs. Kugler said.
A Mass will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in St. Anne Church, 400 Hoodridge Drive.
Robert Zullo: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-3909.