Ralph was born February 14, 1932, in a farmhouse between Marsing and Caldwell, Idaho. He was the fifth child of Glen (1894–1981) and Fannie (1900–1985) Nutting Beebe. His siblings were David (1920–2014), Rex (1922–1995), Helen (1925–2010) and Richard (1928–1989).
He attended Greenleaf Friends Academy in Idaho and George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, graduating with an A.B. in history in 1954. He received an M.Ed. from Linfield College in 1955 and an M.A. and a Ph.D from the University of Oregon in 1969 and 1972.
Ralph met Wanda Pierson (born October 9, 1933) at Greenleaf Academy in September of 1947, after her family moved to Idaho to pastor the Star Friends Church. She said later, "A brown-eyed boy smiled at me and made me feel welcome."
They married on June 8, 1953. For the next two years, Ralph served at George Fox as football, basketball and baseball coach, Dean of Men, and alongside Wanda as head resident of the men's dormitory.
Ralph and Wanda moved to Eugene in 1957 where they were active in Eugene Friends Church. Ralph taught history at Willamette and Churchill High Schools for 17 years before returning to George Fox in 1974 where he served as professor for 23 years. Following retirement in 1997, he continued for four years team-teaching "War and Conscience in U.S. History" and "The Vietnam Experience" with his favorite political figure, Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield, who had also retired in 1997. In 2011 he team-taught "War and Conscience" with his granddaughter, Cherice (Eichenberger) Bock.He authored or co-authored ten books, including histories of Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Church and George Fox University. He ghost-wrote the autobiography of Audeh Rantisi, a Palestinian Christian who lived under Israeli oppression on the West Bank (Blessed are the Peacemakers: A Palestinian Christian in the Occupied West Bank). Ralph wrote one novel, Cousins at War, showing with a historian's accuracy both sides of the American Civil War. With Cherice, he was in the process of co-authoring War & Conscientious Objection in Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends, 1940–1975.Ralph's wife, Wanda, preceded him in death on March 18, 2017 after nearly 64 years of marriage. The two have three children: Diane Beebe, Lori (and Ron) Tuning, and Ken (and LeAnn) Beebe. Ten grandchildren and eight great grandchildren also survive him.
Ralph reports the five greatest events of his life: 1- Accepting Jesus and living for Him; 2- Marrying Wanda; 3/4/5- Diane, Lori, and Ken (a three-way tie). In his 2015 autobiography, Ralph summed up his longstanding philosophy: "I felt I must enter into life with a Bible in one hand and a history book and newspaper in the other."
Friends Church at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, June 21, 2019. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be sent to the George Fox University Center for Peace and Justice.