Rita Campbell said her twin brother, Ralph Umbdenstock, would make it a point to show returning soldiers how much he appreciated their efforts. She said Umbdenstock, a U.S. Air Force veteran who served in the Vietnam War, knew what it was like to come home without a hero’s welcome.
“He had a really good attitude,” Campbell said. “He always tried really hard to see the positive, and I think Ralph really did try to be an example to other people.”
Umbdenstock died Dec. 31 at the age of 61. He was a 41-year member of Maple Park American Legion Post 312 and a past post commander. He had moved to Texas, and Campbell said there were many in the Maple Park area who wanted to honor Umbdenstock. Friends and family are invited to gather from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the legion, 203 Main St., Maple Park.
Umbdenstock graduated from Kaneland High School in 1970, and then graduated from Waubonsee Community College. Campbell said he enlisted in the Air Force because he felt as if he soon would be called to duty.
“He talked about it,” she said. “At the time, just like when 9/11 happened, people got fired up about certain things. And there was controversy about the Vietnam War. Some people thought it was horrible and wrong that we were there. … After the fact, I don’t think [those who served] were welcomed home exactly like the World War II vets.”
There were good times, too. An obituary showed him as a man who loved to travel, who spent two years in Barcelona, helping to set up a new phone system before the 1992 Olympics. It also showed that he enjoyed skiing, scuba diving and pool parties with families and friends. Campbell, who lives in Maple Park, said she has heard stories about her brother that she didn’t know.
“It’s good to reminisce and bring out the fun things that happened,” she said. “And that’s how Ralph would want to be remembered.”