F3c Ralph Leroy Wallace


F3c Ralph Leroy Wallace

Ralph LeRoy Wallace was the only unanimous choice for the 1940 Oregon high school “B” division basketball team.

A forward, he scored 27 points in leading Monroe Union High School to the state title for “B” schools — those with small enrollments. Monroe then played against bigger schools for the overall state title, losing to Salem in the semi-finals.

Mr. Wallace graduated that spring and enlisted in the Navy on Nov. 6, 1940.

He was a fireman third class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

He was born March 29, 1920 near Monroe about 20 miles north-northwest of Eugene to Kestner Wallace, a sawmill worker, and Mabel Ingram Wallace, a homemaker.

Mr. Wallace learned to play basketball in nearby Bellfountain, which was famous for defeating a Portland school with 1,700 students to take the 1937 state title. Bellfountain had 27 students. Its team, with just eight players, was captained by Harrison Wallace — Ralph’s older brother.

Bellfountain High closed the next year, which is how Ralph then ended up seven miles away at Monroe.

Harrison and two other brothers, Louis and William, also served in the Navy in World War II and survived.


Sources: the Corvallis (Oregon) Gazette-Times; The Eugene (Oregon) Register Guard; Oregon School Activities Association; Census; Navy muster roll; “The Bellfountain Giant Killers” by Joe R. Blakely. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.

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