Along with everyone else in the banjo universe, I have long been grateful for Ralph's music, his singing, and the way he integrated old time music and bluegrass, and stayed fixed on preserving and performing the archaic tunes. I admired his longevity in the music business, and his adaptability - the way he turned to his voice as his primary instrument as he put on the years. I really, really liked his spirited clawhammer. I remember sneaking away from my office in the Pentagon in November 2006 to witness the presentation ceremony for the National Medal of Arts at the White House. In my recollection, formed from a distance in a huge Washington crowd assembled for the occasion, and dependent upon the loudspeakers that broadcast the proceedings, when it came time for the President to bestow the award, Ralph asked the President if he wanted him to remove his cowboy hat, a rare event for Ralph but one which he consented to do for the Chief Executive.