Memorial for Ralph Grumke and a Call for Action

The following column was published in the Machine Cancel Forum in 2009. Our Editor not only mourns the loss of an important member of the Society, but also points out that we need to get involved and work hard to make this a better organization.


A note that is becoming more and more common: Another World War II veteran has passed away. Ralph Grumke closed his earthly stamp albums on December 22nd just as the January 2009 issue of Machine Cancel Forum was posted into the mail. To the members of the Flag Cancel Society, he was our leader. In 1982 he, together with Bart Billings and Andrew Buckland, incorporated the Flag Cancel Society as a chartered non-profit corporation in the State of Ohio. The incorporation gave us permanency, and simplified our later 1987 transformation into the present day Machine Cancel Society.

On a personal note, I enjoyed Ralph as a friend and fellow collector, and he was always a friendly face and guiding hand. I was puzzled as to why in 1985 he telephoned me to become treasurer for the Society. We hardly knew each other, and yet he was intrusting me with the society’s deposits. I protested a bit, as my daughter was just a year old, my law practice was just getting started, and stamp collecting was my pleasure . . . not a job. He told me that day that I would learn more, enjoy more, and meet the finest people if I took this position of responsibility.

Direct from a World War II veteran: Enjoy more by serving more. Be better by serving better. Wow! How could one say no to that argument? He was right. I met many of you through the mail, at meetings, and through modern advances like email. I was tapped for assistant editor, and now I am managing editor. His legacy is not the incorporation of the Flag Cancel Society or that I am your editor. Rather his legacy is the relationship I have as Editor with the readership. As you look through the pages of Forum, note the diversity of different articles . . . from 19th century Columbians, with fake cancels, to a newly discovered turn of the century light bulb cancel from Chicago, to 20th century Ohio River first day covers, to Maryland postal history, to a French machine that was ‘lost in the Smithsonian’ like an Indiana Jones story, to purple ink machine cancels, to our on going effort to establish dates of use of machines in Project 2000, to 21st century ink jets. When I needed a Saint Louis article in Ralph’s memory, serendipitously a Saint Louis ink jet article arrived.

Thanks to Ralph, I have discovered you all to be great. KEEP sending articles. DO volunteer for society posts. HELP the officers by sending dues in promptly. ENCOURAGE your society workers. PARTICIPATE in society meetings and auctions. SPREAD THE WORD on machine cancel collecting, and SEEK NEW MEMBERS. Continue to do so in Ralph’s memory.

More Links

Main Machine Cancel Society Web Page

Contact information for the Society's President.

Updated 7 September, 2020

[Item originally published August 23, 2009]

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