Cover photo for Ralph Douglas Dillon's Obituary
Ralph Douglas Dillon

Ralph Douglas Dillon

d. December 18, 2023



Ralph Douglas Dillon, “Pappy”, passed away peacefully on December 18, 2023, at the age of 83 in Middleton, Wisconsin. He was born in South Bend, Indiana, to the late Denver Dillon and Theresa (Taylor) Dillon. Ralph grew up in South Bend with his seven siblings in a large and loving family.

After completing high school, Ralph worked various jobs before meeting and marrying his beloved wife, Carol Sue Burnham.

Ralph's educational journey included earning a Bachelor’s degree at Ball State University, a Master’s degree at Indiana University, and completed the rigorous program at the University of Chicago School of Management. He was also a proud member of The Bascom Hill Society. He valued the importance of higher education and the opportunities it provided.

Ralph's career in business was marked by notable achievements and leadership roles that took him all over the United States. Ralph's last role was as the Chairman of the Board and CEO of Cost Plus World Market in 1990 before retiring in 1998.

Ralph was a remarkable husband, father, grandpappy, great-grandpappy, uncle, brother, friend, and mentor. He cherished his family and leaves behind his loving wife, Carol (Burnham) Dillon, and their children: Pamela (Dillon) Heaberlin (Jeff), Michael Dillon (Cheryl), and Karen (Dillon) Natoli (Brian). Ralph also leaves behind his adored grandchildren: Sean Dillon (Erin) in Texas, Connor Dillon in Texas, Christopher Heaberlin (Mady) in Colorado, Jonathan Heaberlin (Bryanna) in Colorado, and Grace Natoli in Wisconsin. Additionally, he is survived by his much loved great-grandchildren, Colten Heaberlin, Caden Risenhoover, Walker Heaberlin, Cameron Heaberlin and Brooks Dillon. He also is survived by his loving youngest sister Carol Stum, several loved nieces and nephews and long-term cherished childhood friends Dennis Daugherty, and Max Nemeth.

At Ralph's request, there will be no funeral or formal memorial service. The immediate family will gather in the summer for a private celebration of life. In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests that memorial contributions be made to The Restoring Hope Transplant House in Middleton, Wisconsin , or Agrace Hospice in Fitchburg, Wisconsin .

The compassionate professionals at Cress Funeral Home, located at 6021 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53705, are assisting the family with the arrangements during this difficult time.

Ralph Douglas Dillon, “Pappy”, will be deeply missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him. May his memory be a comfort and a blessing to those who loved him.

Please share your memories at

Cress Center

6021 University Ave. Madison

(608) 238-8406


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