A big heart

GREENFIELD — When hundreds of residents flock to First Presbyterian Church for the annual Strawberry Festival this year, one key face will be missing from the crowd.

Ralph Scroggins, who members of the congregation described as an instrumental organizer of the annual summertime tradition in Greenfield, died last week at 87.

He leaves behind three adult children and 10 grandchildren.

Outside of the festival, which has raised tens of thousands of dollars for community organizations since it began in 1983, Scroggins was always committed to his church, members said. When a fire destroyed much of the building’s interior in the 1980s, Scroggins spent weeks repainting walls and rewiring lights in the church sanctuary.

When the church’s furnace failed and needed maintenance, Scroggins was first to offer a hand, said Katherine Harper of Greenfield, a member of the congregation since 1985.

The Rev. John Paulson, who served at the church from 2002 to 2015, said when wheelchair-bound members of the church couldn’t make their way through a narrow platform at the back of the sanctuary, Scroggins built an extension to make way.

But for as much time as he spent at the church, Scroggins remained committed to his family, which included his late wife, Bev, sons, Jeff and Scott, and daughter, Jennifer Rosemeyer.

“He was a pillar in the community but in our lives, too,” Jeff Scroggins said.

Whenever any of his kids had something they needed help with, they could count on their father for consistent advice.

“If there was a question about anything, whether it was fixing your car or just life in general, you always called dad,” Jeff Scroggins said.

And he was a near-constant presence at the baseball diamonds in Riley Park, said Mike Hubert, director of the Greenfield Youth Baseball Association.

During the countless nights the grandfather spent out at the park watching his grandkids play, Hubert forged a bond with Scroggins, he said.

Scroggins acted as an advocate for the league over the years, Hubert said, encouraging families to join the program. He also kept stats for his grandkids’ teams.

Scroggins, who worked as an engineer until his retirement in 2002, moved his family from Illinois to Greenfield in 1976.

When he was moved into hospice care last week before succumbing to a battle with liver cancer, friends showed up in force to pay respect, Harper said.

And that’s a testament to his stature among residents, Josh Scroggins said.

“All the support we’re getting from the community, that’s a direct result of how much he meant to everyone,” Josh Scroggins said.

Daniel Morgan is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (317) 477-3228 or dmorgan@greenfieldreporter.com.