Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My love... His physical presence is gone but will always be remembered

HESSTON - Williams, Ronald K. "Ronnie," went to be with the Lord Thursday, March 20, 2014, at Newton Medical Center, Newton, Kan., at the age of 66. He was born Jan. 8, 1948, in Guthrie, Okla. to Harold D. and Helen M. (Banks) Williams. Ronnie was united in marriage to Teresa Keesee on Aug. 20, 1984, in Wichita, Kan. Ronnie was an electrician and retired from Boeing, but his true passion was music. In his youth, he was involved with several bands in Wichita and later owned his own recording studio. Prior to moving to Wichita, he owned his own restaurant in Topeka, Fat Ronnie's, which was the first place in the state to offer deep fried mushrooms. Ronnie also enjoyed fishing, spending time with his family, and helping others. Ronnie is survived by his wife, Teresa; four sons, Tim Williams of Andover, Shaun (Jenny) Williams of Bremerton, Wash., Aaron Williams of Derby, and Keith (Lindsay) Williams of Wichita; two daughters, Stacey (Charles) Ingram of Derby, and Amy (Rex) Schertz of Hesston; 11 grandchildren; one sister, Wydonna (Don) Ball of Kingston Springs, Tenn.; and numerous nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Vicki Gange. Funeral Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 25, 2014, at Hesston Methodist Church, Hesston, with Pastor Terry Burchett officiating. Burial will follow in Hesston City Cemetery, Hesston. Visitation will be Monday, March 24, 2014, from 4 to 8 p.m., with the family receiving friends from 6 to 8 p.m. at Miller-Ott Funeral Home, Hesston. Memorials may be sent to Autism Speaks in care of Miller-Ott Funeral Home, Hesston.                                                                       
Published in The Wichita Eagle on Mar. 22, 2014

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Keith wrote the most beautiful eulogy for his dad that anyone could have written. He got up to speak and my external calmness nearly crumpled. When Shaun got up to speak, it really was a challenge to keep it all together. The service was beautiful and our long-time pastor (and friend) and his wife drove up from Edmond, OK to do the service. I wouldn't have wanted anyone else to do it. Ron loved them like family and I know they loved him, too. Ron's friend Chuck Haukos had very nice words to share as well. Many of Ron's former co-workers came to pay their respects and I was so touched to see their names in the guest book. I hadn't had time to get around to everyone to thank them and missed that they were there. I was so humbled and touched.

Keith's eulogy:

It is said that you die twice. Once when you stop breathing, and once when your name is spoken for the very last time. My father will never die for as long as I'm alive, and not just because we've got the same name. Today, my family buried him, but we will never forget him or be without him.

Ronnie Williams was a great man. He was an electrician by trade, a musician by love, and a teacher by simply existing. He taught me a many great things that carried on into my adult life. He taught me respect, softness, and kindness in a world severely lacking all three. Be courteous to everyone you meet. Hold the door open for strangers. Smile when you speak, because happiness is contagious and we can be carriers.

He taught me what real value is. Not the value of things like money or possessions - He was terrible with money and was a bit of a hoarder - but of people and experiences. If you couldn't find worth in someone, you weren't looking hard enough. Everyone has value. Everyone cherishes and is cherished by someone. Moments together are precious. They are fuel that gets you through hard days. They are comfort and warmth when you are cold, and they are peace of mind in the maelstrom of grief. They are worth more than diamonds or gold but can never be bought or sold.

His tolerance, understanding, and love for all people was apparent in every interaction he ever had. He didn't see strangers, just friends he hadn't made yet. Meeting him and befriending him were pretty much one in the same because he didn't give you much choice in whether or not you loved him. There were few men like him. Not enough men like him, really.

I've got many stories about my father. Some private, some not. If you ask, I'll share them. If you don't ask, I'll probably share them anyway.
Beautifully written and spoken.  Shaun's words were so heartfelt and genuine. He has sacrificed much family time in his service to our country. He felt bad that it's been three years since he's been able to be home and the best he's been able to do in the past several months is to FaceTime with Ron. Ron loved his children equally and was so very proud of them all and extremely proud of the man Shaun has become and of his service in the Navy. Shaun wore his dress blues in Ron's honor.

Shaun, Keith, Tim, Hayden (Tim's son), Rex (Amy's husband), and Charles (Stacey's husband) were the pall bearers.

Shaun and his family drove from Seattle to get here just in time for the visitation Monday night and then had to head back home today. We couldn't find tickets for all of them on one flight and what we found was between $1200-$1500 each - EACH! They needed a minimum of five tickets and really needed six (the youngest is almost 2). It was wonderful to see them but sorry they had to make such a fast trip under the circumstances. I did manage to get them all on the sofa for a couple of pictures. This is the best one.

L-R: Tristan, Anna, Zachary, Kaitlyn, Alexander, Isaiah

Got my children and their spouses to sit for a picture, too. LOL - Tristan didn't want to miss out on being held by his mom. Too many people for him so he was very wary of us all.

And finally, the whole crew.

As sad as the last few days have been, I know that Ron is no longer suffering, he is in a better place, and he was ready to go. Ron knew beyond a doubt that he would spend eternity with God and I know that I will see him again. His earthly body was totally worn out but his heavenly body is perfect and he will never again suffer the multitude of illnesses and pain that he endured for the last several years of his life. I will forever miss him, his laughter, and his physical presence. But, I will carry his memory in my heart forever. Keith said it all so well when he said Ron loved with his whole being. I was privileged to be able to be his wife for nearly 30 years. The last words we spoke to each other were of our love for the other. I did not expect it would be the last time I would be able to say those words to him directly or to hear them from him. I cherish that memory.

When Jenny's parents learned of Ron's passing, they got in their son's car (they were visiting Indiana from Taiwan) and drove 13+ hours to hand me an envelope in the Chinese tradition (with a monetary gift), hug my neck and tell me how sorry they were to learn of Ron's death. They stayed long enough to give me lots of hugs and love, and then they got back in their car and drove back to Indiana. Words cannot express the gratitude or how humbled I felt with their selfless act. I couldn't even think about it for days afterward without tearing up. Even today, it's difficult to write without the emotion coming to the surface. Amazing people and amazing action on their part.  I am forever grateful.