Ralph Dreessen was born in 1918 — the same year the United States’ vocational education system was implemented. During the next 77 years, they would grow up together.
The oldest of nine children, Dreessen was born on Jan. 1, 1918, to A.N. “Bat” and Goldie Smith Dreessen. Honing his skills on the family farm southwest of Guthrie, Dreessen graduated from Navina High School in 1935. He later graduated from Oklahoma A&M, earning B.S. and M.S. degrees.
In 1940 Dreessen married and began a family. He and his wife, Lenora, had three children, Phil, Carolyn and Nick.
He joined the faculty of Lamont High School in 1940, then moved to Guthrie in 1941. During his tenure at Guthrie, he sponsored outstanding judging teams in most areas of the vo-ag curriculum. Six teams represented Oklahoma in national FFA judging contests. Guthrie also won the sweepstakes trophy in the OSU Interscholastics in 1950-51. The national FFA also recognized the Guthrie FFA for its program of work in 1950.
In 1951, Dreessen joined the Oklahoma Department of Vocational and Technical Education as a district supervisor. Over the next 37 years, he would become a recognized leader in the state and national FFA organizations as well as Oklahoma’s ag community.
He was recognized by OSU as a graduate of distinction in animal science in 1970 and in agricultural education in 1981. He served as president of the National Association of Agriculture Supervisors in 1976-77 and was honored as its outstanding member in 1980. Dreessen was elected to the national board of directors and board of trustees of the National FFA Organization for two terms – 1973-75 and 1980-82.
Ralph also knew the pain of loss. In 1962, his wife, Lenora, passed away. Three years later, he remarried, making Ruby Andrews his bride. Also joining the family was Ruby’s daughter, Gwen Peatling.
With his family — including seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren -- his friends and his professional associates, Dreessen continued to work on behalf of agricultural education after retirement.
Dreessen was inducted to the CareerTech Hall of Fame in 1995.