Ronald R. Chapple, 74, passed away February 9, 2019. Ronnie was born April 19, 1944 in Idaho Falls, to Russell and Nellie Chapple, the youngest of seven children. He attended Ucon Elementary and Bonneville High School. Ronnie’s dad had him exercising horses at a very young age and acquired his jockey’s license at age 14. He was a natural on a horse, good balance, good hands. He had a great mental clock and knew when to send a horse. He loved riding thoroughbreds.
Ronnie’s jockey career took him to about every track, large and small, in Arizona, Montana, British Columbia, Washington, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho and California. News articles labeled him “The Quiet Tornado”. He’d spent more time in the saddle during that time than the average person does in bed. He was consistently a leading rider in Portland Meadows, Bay Meadows, Spokane’s Playfair. He won a lot of big money races, the Long Acres Mile, Portland Meadows Futurity and others. It is said he won and spent a lot of money, often giving it away.
In 1972 at Playfair, Ronnie was thrown over the head of his mount, Benton Road, the favorite. He lost his safety helmet and his skull was crushed by the thundering hooves. In critical condition, and months in the hospital, with a steel plate replacing a portion of his skull, doctors figured the odds were 1,000 to 1 he would ever again climb aboard a race horse. However, his heart and desire got him back to racing as Ronnie returned to the silks five years later. He rode 256 trips in that first year back at Playfair. He would go on to ride another 10 years.
Ronnie did not have an easy life and had very little. The old head injury along with failing health lead him back home to be taken care of and loved by his brother Larry. Ronnie is survived by his siblings, Donna Landon, Larry Chapple, and Bob Chapple, his children, Scott Chapple, Vince Chapple, Troy Chapple and Trina Chapple. He was preceded in death by his wife Kathy, daughter Sandi Devine, parents and siblings Beth Smout, Rex Chapple and Jay Chapple. Ronnie will be buried in his brother Larry’s racing silks.
A viewing was held at Eckersell Memorial Chapel on Wednesday, February 13, from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m with interment at 12:00 p.m. at Milo Cemetery. Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.eckersellfuneralhome.com