By Wendy Patterson
Former Novato High School teacher and coach Ralph Cutler passed away at the age of 94 on Sept. 13.
He was born in New York City on Jan. 19, 1918. He graduated from high school at the age of 15 and then earned a B.S. and M.S from City College of New York. He served in the Intelligence Corps as a photographic interpreter in Patton’s Army during World War II.
After teaching in Harlem, N.Y., he and his wife Pearl moved to California. He began his career in Novato in 1953 as a seventh-grade teacher at Marion School in Novato. In 1955, he became one of the five original teachers at the newly opened Novato High School.
Over a period of 33 years, he taught physical education, French, human biology, U.S. history, civics, English and reading improvement. After retiring in 1987, he continued to teach in the Adult Literacy Program.
He also served as athletic director, P.E. Department chair, and the advisor for the Hornet’s Buzz student newspaper. He was always thrilled to get an occasional note, visit or phone call from a former student. He loved his profession and taught for more than 40 years.
He was very committed to the wrestling program he started in 1954 and proud of the boys who wrestled on his teams. He was honored to be known as the “Father of Wrestling north of the Golden Gate Bridge” by the Ralph Cutler trophy given to the Outstanding Wrestler in Marin County, and by his induction into the Marin County Athletic Hall of Fame. He was proud of the accomplishments of his teams — five league titles, six Marin County Tournament titles, three second-place NCS Tournament finishes, the Northern California Invitational Championship, and 40 straight dual-meet victories.
More recently, he was very touched by a wonderful visit from five of his wrestlers from the late 1960s and proudly shared pictures from this reunion to anyone who had time to look.
He loved to dance and sing, and play the accordion, piano and harmonica. As an enthusiastic gymnast, he spoke about showing off just a little by doing handstands everywhere — on garbage cans, park benches and fence rails — and about his love for the flying rings. He was proud to have been an athlete and stayed physically active into his 90s, continuing to swim, walk and ride his stationary bike. He was an avid writer and enjoyed the opportunities that using a computer and e-mail provided.
He was an inspiring man who was devoted to his family. He will be greatly missed by his wife, Pearl, his daughter Eileen and her husband Steve Oliver of Danville, daughter Wendy and husband Steve Patterson of Fairfield, his grandchildren Michelle, Jeremy, Michael, Justin and Melissa, his sister Ann Rotberg, and his sister-in law Mollie Lewitter. He would want us to know that he enjoyed the journey.
At his request, no services will be held.