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Ralph Duncan Pittman
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Obituary for Ralph Duncan Pittman

Ralph passed away on Saturday, November 4, 2017 at the age of 66.

Ralph was a lifelong servant, starting his career as a dispatcher at North Wilkesboro Police Department at age 19 while still attending Wilkes Central High School. He worked third shift and attended school during the day. When he turned 21, he was sworn in as a police officer with the department and continued to work third shift where he made several felony arrests for breaking and entering and larceny. He rotated to different shifts until he left NWPD and enlisted in the US Army where he served approximately two years and returned to North Wilkesboro and the police department.

While in North Wilkesboro, Ralph was a member of the North Wilkesboro Fire Department and Wilkes Rescue Squad. Ralph left the North Wilkesboro Police Department and was hired by Lenoir Police Department where he served approximately 17 years as a shift lieutenant with that department. While at Lenoir, he was involved with two riots, armed robberies, murders, numerous suicides and two hostage situations. One of the hostage situations involved a standoff at a shelter home for abused and battered women with seven people being held against their will by and armed suspect. Ralph was instrumental in helping resolve the situation with no one injured. He was awarded a medal for his actions in this event. The suspect was awarded with 80 years in prison.

Ralph left the Lenoir Police Department and became a North Carolina Probation/Parole Officer.

Ralph left Probation and returned to North Wilkesboro after the death of mother, Elizabeth “Lib” Duncan Pittman. He once again went to work at the police department.

After a short time as a patrol officer, he was selected as an investigator with the department. He was later promoted to Detective Captain under the direction of Mayor Steve Foster. Ralph served in that capacity until his retirement. During this time, he worked numerous child sex offense cases. He said after his retirement, this was one part of the job he was glad to walk away from. These cases are heart rendering and take a toll on you after a while.

During this time, Ralph again became a member of the North Wilkesboro Fire Department where he was an interior firefighter and a medical responder. He served the department until he retired.

Ralph was an active member of Boy Scout Troop 336, and was involved in scouting in one capacity or another since he was old enough to be a cub scout. Troop 336 is sponsored by the North Wilkesboro Presbyterian Church.

While serving with Troop 336, Ralph was awarded the Boy Scout Honor Medal with crossed palms (the highest ranking lifesaving medal awarded by BSA) for saving a fellow firefighter at a silo fire at the old American Drew furniture building. This was only the 131st honor medal with crossed palms awarded in the nation. Ralph reentered the burning silo to rescue fellow firefighter, Greg Fletcher and was credited with saving his life.

Ralph was also a graduate of the BSA Wood Badge course which is an adult leadership course concentrating on outdoor skills. He attended this course in Atlanta Georgia.

While serving as a law enforcement officer, Ralph was involved with SWAT teams both in Lenoir and North Wilkesboro. He was the SWAT team leader at Lenoir at one time. He was the SWAT team leader of an inter-agency SWAT team in North Wilkesboro under the administration of Chief David Pendry. Under Pendry’s and Pittman’s direction numerous drug raids were carried out ridding the city and county of numerous drug houses. Armed robbery suspects and other felony arrests were also carried out.

After Pendry retired the SWAT team disbanded, but the county activated a Critical Response Team (CRT) under the administration of Sheriff Dane Mastin. Pittman became part of this group.

While serving on these teams, Pittman held positions as a sniper/observer and an entry team member.

The CRT team has taken down armed robbery, drug, mental commitment suspects and murder suspects. Pittman was proud of the fact that no shots were ever fired by SWAT members and no SWAT member was ever shot.

Ralph was a graduate from TEES (a tactical explosive entry school) where he learned to use high explosives to breach doors and walls in order to gain quick access to barricaded suspects and to recognize the Improvised Explosive Devices.

Ralph was a law enforcement instructor with Wilkes Community College where he taught law enforcement subjects for approximately thirty seven years. He taught in the Basic Law Enforcement Training courses teaching primarily Constitutional Law and elements of criminal offenses. He also taught in-service training courses.

Ralph held an under graduate degree in Criminal Justice from Appalachian State University and a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He held an Advanced Law Enforcement Certificate from Criminal Justice Training and Standards and an Advanced Law Certificate from the Sheriff’s Training and Standards. He was one of the few people in Wilkes to hold Advanced Certificates from both.

Ralph was a charter member of the James B. Gordon Camp of Surviving Sons of the Confederacy. Ralph’s great grandfather, J.G. Duncan, was a private in the Confederate Army from Wilkes County in the war for Southern Independence.

Ralph was a member of a cowboy action-shooting club, The Gunpowder Creek Regulators, in Caldwell County. He got to dress up in period clothing, with two six guns, a lever action rifle and a double barrel shotgun and relive the adventures of the old west shooting on metal targets. He used to say “I’m not much fast, but I sure do enjoy the re-enacting and shooting”

About law enforcement, he said, “I never made much money doing my duty, but I cannot think of anything else, I would have rather done with my life than be a law enforcement officer.”

About his other “adventures” he said, “I have lived my childhood dreams. I always wanted to be a policeman, a firemen, a soldier and a “cowboy”. I have done all these and so much more and I am happy. Who could ask for more?

Ralph was preceded in death by his mother; Elizabeth Duncan of North Wilkesboro.

Ralph is survived by his loving and devoted wife; Sherry Lynn Pittman of the home, whom Ralph loved dearly, a stepson; Josh Holt and his wife, Christy and four grandchildren; Kyrstan, Lexi, Jon and Gaje.

The family wishes to especially thank his caregiver, Crystal Englebert.

Funeral services for Ralph will be held 1:00 PM, Thursday, November 9, 2017 at Reins Sturdivant Chapel with Rev. Tim Henderson officiating. Burial will be in Mountlawn Memorial Park. The family will receive friends from 6:00 until 8:00 Wednesday evening at Reins Sturdivant Funeral Home.

Pallbearers will be Cam Finley, Darrell Miller, Dane Mastin, Derek Wiles, Joe Rankin, Niki Hamby , Chris Hollars, Charles Hicks, Chris Shew, James Caldwell and Shannon Anderson.

Flowers will be accepted.


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Previous Events

Visitation

Wednesday

8

Nov

6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home

270 Armory Road
North Wilkesboro, NC 28659

Service

Thursday

9

Nov

1:00 PM
Reins-Sturdiavant Chapel

270 Armory Road
North Wilkesboro, NC 28659

Cemetery Details

Location

Mountlawn Memorial Park

196 Fan Key Road
North Wilkesboro, NC 28659

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