Ron arrived at the conference in June of 1979, with his recently betrothed Doreen and newly acquired stepdaughter Kym. They had found out about it through a friend, Judy Miller, from their small rural Quebec community of Arundel. After a 7 hour journey then driving about campus, a grumpy youngster in tow, looking for registration and any signs of life, having understood the campus to be wheelchair accessible, were faced with the double decker staired entrance of Gould. They were in the midst of giving up on their fruitless conquest, when were met by 3 strapping teens, Ron McClain, Bill Milford and Jim Peters who took matters into their own hands with characteristic humour no doubt, and demonstrating true Northfield love and community. This began 36 years of involvement with the Northfield community, Ron taking on various roles such as program chair, workshop coordinator, and Troika to name a few.
Following a series of strokes in the spring and summer of 2015, Ron’s long full life of such warmly dedicated community involvement, at Northfield and at home, drew to a close in palliative care. Surrounded by family, receiving loving messages of farewell from Northfield friends, listening to the music of Bill Milford, Chris Peters, the singing of the Threshold Choir of Caroline Jestin, Andrew and Dorothy Mason, Ron, Mom and I were once again upheld in the Northfield community embrace in a time of need. One of Ron’s last requests, in December 2015, was to return to Northfield. He will indeed, in spirit, in the hearts of those who called him friend and family, and in his ashes, to be spread on the grass and under the trees of both old and new campuses, fertilizing the hallowed ground as the good farm boy he was.
”Now I’m a sentimental, nostalgic old fool, cherishing each and every bit of new material that hints of yesterday, or at least another era when life was so…..whatever it was. At least it was then and not now. But wait….now is good, very good. But maybe it was simpler and better back then? Or was it? We’ll never know.”
Ron Cooke, Fall, 2005