Ron arrived at the conference in June of 1979 with his recently married wife, Doreen, and a newly acquired step-daughter, Kym Pedicelli.
They had learned about the Conference through Judy Miller, a friend who was from their small rural Quebec community of Arundel. After a 7-hour journey, then driving around the Northfield campus with a grumpy youngster in tow, looking for Registration and any signs of life, having understood the campus to be wheelchair accessible, they were faced with the double set of stairs at the entrance of Gould Hall. They were in the midst of giving up on their fruitless quest when they were met by 3 strapping teens, Ron McClain, Bill Milford and Jim Peters who took matters into their own hands, with characteristic humor no doubt, and carried Ron, wheelchair and all, into Gould – demonstrating true Northfield love and community.
Thus began 36 years of involvement with the Northfield community, with Ron taking on various roles such as Program Chair, Workshop Coordinator, and Troika to name a few. His quiet and thoughtful approach often lent a needed hand to many animated discussions.
Following a series of strokes in the spring and summer of 2015, Ron’s long, full life of 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, Caroline Jestin, and the singing of Threshold Choir members, Andrew and Dorothy Mason, Ron, Doreen and Kym were once again held in the embrace of the Northfield community in a time of need.
One of Ron’s last requests, in December 2015, was to return to Northfield. He has indeed, in spirit, in the hearts of those who called him friend and family, and in his ashes, which were 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