For Ron (1955-2015)

I don’t normally go to funerals except to m.c. or eulogize for those who have been family, special or otherwise close. Yesterday was an exception.

Ron, as everyone will tell you in that packed funeral home, was the nicest guy who had a smile for anyone and everyone. He was universally well-liked and always kept things light. He was also a boy from the North side who got to live out his musical dreams with his close childhood friend S. They travelled far to places like England where they visited all the Beatles shrines and Ron walked back and forth across Abbey Road several times, ecstatic to have lived out another of his many musical fantasies connected with the group who provided most of the music in the hour before the ceremony started yesterday. He also became friends with Gerry Marsden, the leader of the legendary Gerry and the Pacemakers who talked on the phone yesterday with S. before the funeral.

But Ron was also, as S. put it, a math rock star here in Alberta with many websites and much of his best work from his U of A and AB Ed days still and permanently online. S. spoke of going to a convention with Ron and as they passed through the crowd, people were turning to one another whispering “That’s Ron _______.” He was that highly respected for his knowledge and wisdom subject-matter.

He and I both respected each other for our subject matter expertise (mine was English) when we briefly were dept. heads at Scona under a weak, fascistic principal who drove both of us from our jobs–Ron from the school the next year. He was that sunny kind of guy, in a hurry and not wanting to waste his talents, efforts, and time working for someone inferior to him whom he did not respect and who did respect him. Years later he would often say to me, “Teachers don’t know how hard they work” and felt sympathy for those of us still in the trenches once he had moved further into impressive curricular development for teachers and students.

It was in those days when we first met that we got close, visiting each others’ homes and playing music for each other. Ron borrowed music from me and he more than reciprocated for me, giving up albums and many rare dubs. He was incredibly generous to those closest to him.

He and S. went on a final road trip in December and when S. said goodbye to him before Christmas, he was in his usual jovial high spirits, higher than usual with his new wife and adopted family. Ron had just turned 60, and I was surprised when I found this out because he had lived such a rich, full, happy life. Like myself, he had done so much and lived out his biggest dreams and several lives (like his cat Opus) before he turned 60.

So yesterday was not a day to feel sorry for him–only his family and friends who now palpably feel their massive loss as a new week dawns. Ron’s attitude to life and others was totally exemplary. He was a great, good man and a lot of fun to be around. I will miss not seeing him at concerts down the road and will remember him as a one-of-a-kind kindred spirit who netted so much of daily, ever-ticking life.

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