Gary Ralls was known as a champion for civil rights, who loved his cars – he was a ‘Cadillac Man’ to be exact. But he was also known as a great friend, father, and caretaker, who lived his life as an example to others, successfully fighting addiction and fiercely ambitious pursuing a better life for himself and his family. Gary died Nov. 23, 2020 after a brief illness. He was 60.
Gary Steven Ralls, known to friends and family alike as GMoney$, was born April 29, 1960 in New London, Connecticut, the youngest of three children, to Robert Henry Ralls, Sr. and Lovie Pittman Ralls.
Gary grew up in Groton, Connecticut where he played Little League Baseball, football, ran track and played basketball, where he called himself "Sky Walker" on the court.
After graduating from Fitch High School, he worked as a welder at Electric Boat in Groton and later for the Town of Groton, Sewer Department.
Gary completed his degree for Journeyman Lineman and was a member of the IBEW Local 42 where he worked for many contracting companies, powering up cities across Connecticut. He also worked at Bozrah Light & Power as a Lead Lineman until he retired.
But Gary loved to work, so retirement didn’t quite stick. After retirement, he worked as a courier for K. Courier and later as a truck driver for Willimantic Waste.
Gary was also especially proud to be a member of Narcotics Anonymous, which he believed gave him a second chance at life. He celebrated 26 years of recovery on June 6, 2020.
It was early in his recovery in 1994 that he met Leah Gregory at a friend’s cookout. The two moved to Willimantic and married in August, 1997.
“We had a connection that was amazing,” said Leah, who said they took their vows very seriously. “Twenty-five years with him have really been blessed.”
Leah admired his drive and work ethic, and called their connection “uncanny,” from their similar taste in music and cars (Cadillacs) to their pets (AngelGirl, Jojo, Mommas & Angel Baby Ralls) and even their favorite color – red.
The two, who raised five children together, were also dedicated to fighting for civil rights, joining the Windham/Willimantic NAACP together in 2016, where he served as the 2nd Vice President for two years and was recently elected to a second term. They were instrumental in the reactivation of Branch #2016b in Northeast Connecticut.
A statement from the Windham/Willimantic NAACP read: “Gary’s voice reflected his experience as a 60-year-old Black man that grew up in the United States and used that knowledge to guide his contributions within the leadership of the branch. His persistence, compassion and conviction will continue to resonate in the life of this chapter.”
Gary was baptized and a lifelong member of Pleasant Street Baptist Church in Westerly, Rhode Island. He most recently attended Calvary Baptist Church in Willimantic and Unity Church of Greater Hartford in South Windsor, Connecticut.
Gary was predeceased by his parents Robert Ralls, Sr. and Lovie Ralls, and is survived by his sister Debra (William) Sharp of Haddam, CT and brother Robert Jr. (Sharon) Ralls of East Long Meadow, Massachusetts.
He is survived by wife Leah Ralls; his biological son Marquake LaShawn Gaston of Willimantic, who helped care for him during his illness and with whom he shared a special and unique relationship.
He is also survived by the children and grandchildren he helped raise: Brittany Ann Gaston of New London, CT, his “Baby Girl,” who followed him everywhere as a child and shared an undeniable bond; William Gregory of Willimantic, CT, who he loved and supported unconditionally, teaching and instilling life skills; and Latron Conerly, Willimantic, CT; a presence in his life from the age of 16; and Damani Gary Gaston and Dezmen Gaston; Xavier Cluff, Dassionia Conerly, Latron Jr, Conerly and Monet Conerly.
Gary’s nieces, nephews and godchildren, including Lauren Mitchell, Veronica Rupert and Deanna Coleman, Geoffrey Ralls, Jacey Coleman, Whitney Coleman, Jocelynn Smith, and Raleigh Leggett, as well as his closest friends Felicia Gaston, Bobby McClellan, Larry Rucker and Bret Robinson will miss him dearly.
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