Coffeeshop owner remembered for love of life, peopleWritten by Danielle Stanton | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Ralph Behrendt, a longtime glassblower and co-owner of the Flying Rhino Coffee and Chocolate Co., will be remembered for being a big dreamer and for loving life more than anything, his wife Gini Behrendt said.
“He absolutely loved life. He couldn’t wait to start a new project,” Behrendt said. “Ralph said ‘Let’s do this’ and I said ‘OK, what the heck. If we fall on our noses, we fall on our noses.’ We almost lost our business twice with the economy. But we worked hard and, you know, we said ‘Let’s do this,’ and off we would go. Fortunately we made enough right choices and [the business is] still alive. We went on our gut a lot. Everything that we made, we made with love. We believe that’s one of the products we made; we made with love.”
Ralph died June 29 of a massive heart attack at home. He was 63.
Behrendt said what she would like people to remember most about Ralph is what he believed: “’Love who you’re with no matter who you’re with. And allow them to grow.’ We were both very happy,” she said.
Ralph was a glassblower for 18 years. He had a business degree from the University of Toledo, which aided him in his art, Behrendt said. In the late 1980s, he opened Gallery B on Monroe Street. He moved the business to 32 N. Huron St. in 1990 where he built his first glassblowing studio and began doing art shows, which took him across the country.
The Mud Hens’ move Downtown to Fifth Third Field forced him to relocate his studio to 436 13th St. in the UpTown neighborhood. Nine years ago, the Behrendts established a coffee roasting business at that location called the Flying Rhino and soon began making their own chocolate.
Ralph retired from glassblowing at the end of 2005 after he started roasting coffee.
“Ralph was not afraid to reinvent himself,” Behrendt said. “But I think his signature is his love of people because he loved to help people. He was always ready with a helping word and a hug.”
A memorial service is planned for 1:30 p.m. July 6 at the W.K. Sujkowski and Son Funeral Home, 3838 Airport Hwy., with a Celebration of Life service to follow at 2 p.m. Afterward, a Living Memorial Potluck will be held at the Toledo Farmer’s Market – the Behrendts’ “second home” — where attendees are asked to bring a dish to pass to celebrate Ralph’s love for home-cooked food.
“He wasn’t about organization,” Behrendt said. “He was really about life. He was about living life to the fullest and he always said ‘When I go, I want to go quick’ and he succeeded. It was almost like he was in the driver’s seat the whole time. He touched a lot of people. And a lot of people will remember him and share stories of him. I’ve had a never-ending stream of people who need hugs, who need a touch. The love that’s outpouring is phenomenal. We as a couple, we were happy. We were joined at the hip. We did everything together. We had our ups and downs like every normal couple. But you know what? We were happy. Very very happy.”
For information on the memorial service, call 419-340-1062 or 419-729-9488. Memorial tributes may be made to Grand Haven Hospice, Grand Haven, Michigan. Messages of condolence may be made at www.sujkowskiairport.com.