Ralph Gierens, a 69-year-old Katy Perry superfan from Winfield, Illinois, died Wednesday, and news of his death spread quickly among Katy’s Twitter followers, leading to the trending hashtag #RIPKatyCatRalph.
The story of the self-proclaimed oldest KatyCat even garnered the attention of Perry herself, who tweeted Thursday (May 11): “An angel got his wings today, love you @OldestKatyCat and thank you for your laughs and your service #RIPKatyCatRalph.”
An angel got his wings today, love you @OldestKatyCat and thank you for your laughs and your service ??#RIPKatyCatRalph
— #RIPKatyCatRalph (@katyperry) May 11, 2017
The singer even changed her Twitter handle to #RIPKatyCatRalph to honor the late Vietnam veteran, who earned a Purple Heart for his service in the war.
Before his military years, Gierens attended Western Illinois University, where he met his wife, Trudy. According to his obituary, the two were married in December 1969, just before he left for Vietnam. After returning home from the war, he finished school at Southern Illinois University. Gierens worked as a regional contracting officer for the Federal Department of Energy before retiring in 2003. He and his wife enjoyed attending concerts together, including Katy Perry’s.
See fellow KatyCats’ messages to the late fan below:
—-KATYCATS we lost a true gem today. Ralph @OldestKatyCat passed away. He was a dear, kind soul & will be missed. #RIPKatyCatRalph ———— pic.twitter.com/PVZSe3dSQN
— KATY’S THIN MINT—- (@SandCatz) May 10, 2017
#RIPKatyCatRalph thank-you for your friendship throughout these years. You were always a genuine soul. Will miss you loads Pops.–??
— #RIPKatyCatRalph (@karysjones) May 10, 2017
C’mon @katyperry notice your @OldestKatyCat
You got a shout-out in his obit!
He loved you —#RIPKatyCatRalph ——@katyperrylately pic.twitter.com/2XLLNkXhMs
— KATY’S THIN MINT—- (@SandCatz) May 11, 2017