It's rare that one finds a man who is so profoundly talented at making kids feel special. I was often left in awe of what he could do with the students in his groups.
I'm thinking a lot about some words Pastor Dane offered a few weeks ago in a sermon based on the text where Jesus appears on the road to Emmaus. His followers utter powerfully sad words: "But we had hoped." Pastor Dane calls to our attention the reassurance of that passage, that to counter those sad words we can say "But Christ walks with us."
I'm stuck thinking, though, in terms of "But I had hoped." I had hoped he could beat this. I had hoped he could return to school. I had hoped I'd get another chance to emcee one of his jazz festivals and see what his students could do.
Ron was devoted to much that was worthwhile: his wife and family, Jesus, music, his students, his school, his peers.
This is the second time in one year I'm saying goodbye to a director who I have had the good fortune to know. Like Steve Frederick, I didn't get to know Ron as most have come to know him, as a kid moving through his program. Ron was a peer. I don't think Ron knew how much he was modeling for me what a husband and father does. Ron and I admired what one another did for our building. And I admired him for how he could get kids to realize that they were capable of doing so much more than they realized they could do. Steve I admired for how he got people to realize they were part of something bigger than just themselves. Directors like Ron and Steve cultivate so much that is beautiful and worthwhile in others.
Pastor Dane would remind me to say "But Christ walks with us." Christ walked with Ron. Ron ministered, employing talents (he was ridiculously talented) to reach kids and make them realize they could be giants. Christ is walking with his family now. Christ is walking with his friends, like me, who are saddened today. I hope I can emulate what he did in employing his talents to bring out the best in others.
God bless you, Ron.