Ralph Lane Bivens, of Quitman, Arkansas, beloved brother, uncle and friend, died peacefully in his sleep early last Saturday morning at Good Shepherd Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Little Rock. He was born on October 24, 1934. He was 83 at the time of his passing. He was the youngest of 5 children born to H.P and Esther Bivens in a farmhouse which still stands in the Pearson Community just outside of Quitman.
Uncle Ralph was preceded in death by his parents, his beloved wife Virginia Riggs “Ginger” Bivens, a brother, William Henry Bivens and his wife Jean Bivens and his sister, Donice Bivens Bowen and her husband A.C. “Buck” Bowen, along with a niece Lesa Means.
He is survived by his brother Howard Bivens (Marlene) of Louisville, Kentucky, and his sister Charlsie Gadberry (Joe) of Bixby, Oklahoma. He is also survived by three nieces, Jananne Reding (David) of Little Rock, Rebecca Parke (Steve) of Fort Smith and Alice Campbell (Gary) of Ardmore, Oklahoma. He is survived by 5 nephews, Brian Bivens (Amy) of Louisville, Kentucky, Arthur Paul Bowen and John V. Bowen (Michelle) of Little Rock, David Russell Bowen of Rogersville, Missouri and Robert Lane Bowen (Shirley) of Conway. Bob and Paul share Uncle Ralph’s birth date of October 24, an arcane fact that always delighted all three. He is also survived by several great nieces and nephews along with their respective children.Uncle Ralph was never afraid of hard work. He worked on the farm with his brothers and father. He worked as a sawmill hand. He went to Indiana in the early nineteen fifties to work in the steel industry. He spent most of his career as a steelworker for Bethlehem Steel at the Slab Mill in the Burns Harbor Plant on the shores of Lake Michigan next to his adopted home in Valporaiso, Indiana. In 1983, he returned to Pearson to care for his mother after she sustained a stroke. Upon his return to Arkansas, he obtained work with the Arkansas Department of Transportation (as it is referred to now) as a member of a road crew. He worked for the ADOT until his retired once and for all. He kept busy in his retirement years tending to his property and to the happy country home in Pearson he shared with Ginger until her death in 2008. He was an excellent basketball player for the Quitman Bulldogs back in the day and he maintained a lifelong avid interest in the game and in high school teams in the area. Gentle and stubborn in equal measure, he loved his family and it gave him great happiness to help them whenever he could. He loved bacon and eggs for breakfast with black coffee. He enjoyed tinkering with farm equipment and trading cars. And when it came time to tell a story, nobody, as in nobody, could tell one like Uncle Ralph. His passing leaves a very real void in our family. But we will always cherish the stories.Uncle Ralph was of the Baptist faith. A graveside service will be conducted January 25 at Pearson Cemetery adjacent to the Palestine Baptist Church in Quitman at 1pm. The family requests that memorial gifts in his honor be made to Arkansas Hospice. The family also wishes to thank Arkansas Hospice and the Aldersgate Memory Unit at Good Shepherd for the skilled and compassionate care given to Uncle Ralph during his time there. Arrangements by Ruebel Funeral Home, www.ruebelfuneralhome.com .