Just Plain Ole Ralph


In recent correspondence with my colleague, Ralph Pacini, he signed off with a valedictory “Just Plain Ole Ralph.”  I had to smile.  Those words were so customary and recognizably predictable for the man and yet, were paltry and the antithesis to the hands that I knew typed them.  The fact remains, Ralph Pacini is anything but “plain” and “ole.”


Ralph Pacini is a “Renaissance Man”, a polymath, a person with an interest and expertise in a wide variety of topics and talents: master architect, avid long-distance cyclist, hiker, golfer, adventurist and a voracious reader.  It is not surprising to me that Ralph has provided sure and steady leadership to PCH for the past 32 years. 


There is a disarming regularity and economy to the man.  In today’s world through which many people frantically dodge to and fro, Ralph remains wholly approachable, walking at a knowledgeable and assured pace, with unusual patience taking time to answer questions about work, to enjoy the friendly competition with the office NFL pool, and typically visiting the local grocery for a salad after regularly cycling at lunchtime throughout Redlands.  Where many professionals rely on excess and over-designing as a solution and safeguard, professional experience allows Ralph to do his work economically and skillfully, knowing the project requirements while avoiding the weight and hindrances to completing projects on-time and under budget.  Knowing when to be resolute and when to compromise, and wielding the double-barreled weapon of the right amount of self-deprecating humor and loads of common sense – Ralph commands an enviable amount of professional knowledge – the type of office resource who always has an answer.         


A former California governor was criticized for his predictability:  always wearing a dark suit, daily treadmill workouts and for eating the same lunch every day.  Upon closer inspection, these habits actually save time and free the mind to focus the professional on what’s truly important:  serving the clients and keeping them happy.  Ralph Pacini epitomizes the successful meeting of both goals.   


The recent Christmas season was a segue to exciting changes at PCH.  Ralph Pacini, the “P” and founding partner of PCH, was taking yet another step closer to retirement.  He admitted, thank God, that he’d be around PCH another year or so.  We would like to selfishly keep Mr. Pacini forever at PCH.  We will eventually miss his daily greeting, “How are you on this fine, salubrious morning?” which was soon followed by “Is it lunch yet?”  But we want the best for Ralph and his lovely wife, Christine.  And if fewer hours in the office are the reward for a lifetime of hard work, so be it.


I have found that it is indeed possible to simultaneously envy and gratefully applaud someone.  I am giving “Just Plain Ole Ralph” a standing ovation for a career well-done and for a life that has been anything but “plain” and “ole.” 


Well played, Ralph.  Well played.