Colleen Ralph Purpur, formally of Laurel, passed away peacefully on Friday, May 8, 2020, at her home in Seaford. Colleen was born on July 9, 1929, to the late Fanny Wiley Ralph and Harry Longstreet Ralph. She was a graduate of Laurel High School in the class of 1947. She graduated from the University of Delaware in 1952 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood. Colleen married George F. Purpur, Jr. from Danville, Pennsylvania on Sept. 20, 1952.
Colleen worked with children for 38 years. She began her career at the Governor Bacon Health Center in Delaware City. Teaching kindergarten students became her passion. She worked at the Humpty Dumpty Kindergarten alongside of Elizabeth Ann Ellis. A few years later, she was the proprietor of the Busy Bee Kindergarten which was located in the basement of her home. In 1968, she became the first Kindergarten teacher in the Laurel School District. As the years passed, she became well known among the community as “The Beloved Mrs. Purpur.” Long after her retirement, she relished in the fact that she could recognize former students who were all grown up and could tell them what year she taught them. They also recognized her and always told her how much they loved her and her class. Colleen had a passion for all children and thoroughly enjoyed her career. Just recently, she could still sing some of her favorite kindergarten songs.
During earlier years, Colleen enjoyed playing bridge, watching movies, and attending football games. She had family nearby which consisted of living next door to her sister and brother. Many wonderful times were shared among brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Holidays and special occasions were very dear to her heart. Colleen and her siblings referred to themselves as the patriotic family. Their family home was in order of red, white, and blue.
Colleen was a member of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church and served as a Sunday School teacher and as an Altar Guild member for numerous years. She was a member of the Laurel Alumni Association, Laurel Lioness, Historical Society, and the Century Club. She thoroughly enjoyed her class reunions which met several times a year for dinner. Colleen enjoyed talking and shopping and she was proficient at both. She never met a stranger and would help those in their time of need. She and her husband George could be seen together on their daily adventures. She was the proud grandmother of four granddaughters and enjoyed watching them grow. Colleen attended their sporting events, school events, including their graduations. She was an excellent role model and encouraged them to treat others with respect. She always cherished the time they spent together. They had a very special relationship with her and enjoyed shopping trips and lunches. The time she was able to spend with her great-granddaughter was very precious.
She is preceded in death by her husband of 60 years, George F. Purpur, Jr. She is survived by two daughters; Holly Colleen Purpur and Tamara J. Oliphant and her husband Robert H. Oliphant, her grandchildren; Samantha Pickard and her husband James of England, and the triplets; Taylor, Kelsey, and Alexis Oliphant of Laurel, her great granddaughter; Thea Pickard, her niece Julie Taylor and her husband Doug, and several nieces and nephews. In addition to her parents and husband, she is preceded in death by two brothers; R. Branch Ralph and the Reverend H. Wiley Ralph, and her sister Gladys J. Faulkner. A funeral service will be held privately and burial will follow in Odd Fellows Cemetery in Laurel, Delaware.
Memorial gifts may be made in Colleen R. Purpur’s memory to the St. Jude’s Research Hospital or to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Arrangements are in the care of the Hannigan, Short, Disharoon Funeral Home in Laurel.