Deacon Ralph ‘Bud’ Tharp loved preaching, serving as hospital chaplain

As a hospital chaplain, Deacon Ralph “Bud” Tharp Jr. provided spiritual care and comfort to the sick and dying.

He died Jan. 2 – his birthday – on the same floor at Creighton University Medical Center-Bergan Mercy where he had ministered. He was  91.

Funeral services will be at the church where he loved to preach and assist at the altar, St. Columbkille, 200 E. Sixth St. in Papillion.

A vigil and rosary service will be 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5. A Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 6.

Burial will be at a mausoleum at Calvary Cemetery in Omaha.

Deacon Tharp spent a lot of time as a chaplain at Bergan Mercy, so it seemed fitting that he would die on the same floor where he had served, his son, Brian Tharp, of Meadow Grove, said.

But preaching seemed to be what Deacon Tharp loved most during his more than 40 years as a deacon, his son said. “I think he liked the responsibility, and they (parish priests) trusted him to provide a good message.”

Deacon Tharp was born in Omaha to Margaret and Ralph Tharp Sr. But he spent much of his life in Norfolk, where he was raised, graduated from Sacred Heart High School, met his wife of 68 years, Lois, at the former King’s Ballroom, and first served as a deacon at Sacred Heart Parish after his ordination in 1979.

The Tharps eventually moved to the Omaha area and continued raising their family, which grew to eight children. Deacon Tharp was a strict father who loved his family, worked hard to provide a Catholic education for his children, was generous to the Church and made sure his children were involved in their faith, Brian Tharp said.

Deacon Tharp grounded every aspect of his life in the faith, his son said, including his work.

After a long career, the elder Tharp retired from Tharp Dental Craft, which he established and operated for many years in Norfolk and Omaha, creating crowns and partial dentures.

Deacon Tharp was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Michael.

Survivors include his wife; children Ann (Ron) Geary of Lincoln, Brian (Shelley) Tharp, Lynn (Scott) Whitemore of Port Angeles, Washington, Karen (Dave) Thiele of Waterloo, Paula (Mike) Swerczek of Omaha, twin daughters Clara (Randy) Parker of Bellevue and Margaret Tharp of Omaha, and Lora (Fritz) Busch of Campbellsburg, Kentucky; 21 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.

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