Saturday, April 7, 2007

Papa - His Life

This is the text of the life sketch/eulogy that my brother and I presented for our dad at his memorial on April 7. I did the writing, he did the pictoral life sketch that was shown before and after the service, and then we helped each other pull it off.


February 10, 1943 to April 1, 2007

Ronald W G was born to William and Hilda on February 10, 1943, in Vancouver General Hospital. He was their third and final child, and his older sisters enjoyed helping to raise and take care of this new arrival. His first home was in Ladner, BC.

However, the family moved to the (relatively) big city of Langley just prior to Ronnie’s fifth birthday. It was here that he achieved such accomplishments as enrolling in Langley Junior Academy and underwent the mildly corrupting experience of spending time with lifelong friends such as Gerald Berden.

Ron’s family moved once again when they made like islanders and moved to Sidney in 1952. There, his mother was employed at the hospital at Rest Haven. One of his memories during this time which started when he was nine years old was of rowing around the bay in a dilapidated old rowboat that had a disconcerting habit of taking on water. But when you’re a kid, those sort of details matter only somewhat very little (and mostly not at all).

Ron found himself at Canadian Union College for high school, which was quite a long way from home. The winters were colder and longer here, but his parents felt it was important for him to receive the opportunities that education brought; opportunities neither of them had.

From the time he was small, Ron’s Father told him, “Son, when you grow up, choose a career where you can be your own boss. It is hard to not have a trade and have to work for other people your whole life. He took this to heart, and in part because he liked to work with his hands, he decided on a career in Dentistry fairly early on.

So, after graduating from high school at CUC in 1961, he completed one year of college there before moving on for a three-year stint at Walla Walla College in Washington of the Excited States. It was here that he met a rather intriguing maiden from Oregon by the name of Janet W.

Interestingly, Ron and Jan met in a Marriage and Family class! Both signed up for this particular class for ‘extra credit’. The crusty old professor had the enrollees arranged in seats by alphabetical order, and W must have been the letter furthest along the line. But Ron had enrolled for the class a day LATE, so the second lecture was already in session when he arrived. Thus it was that shy Mr. “G” was placed next to shy Miss “W”. Since he did not wish to be unsuccessful, he asked Janet if he had missed anything important the first day. In truth, he had missed out on some terminology that Janet was a bit embarrassed to share with this strikingly handsome lad. Hoping the professor would cover it again later in class, she said, “Naaa, nothing important.” So it was that they came to be stuck next to each other. Weeks later during the final examination, Ron leaned over toward Jan and said, “So, I DID miss some things the first day, eh?” But the ice had already been broken and the damage done.

Ron married Janet in Gaston, Oregon on June 13, 1965, at which time they moved to Loma Linda, CA for four years. There, Ron earned a DDS (Doctor of Dental Science) as a member of the class of ‘69, while Janet taught First graders in nearby Colton and earned a PHT (Putting Hubby Through). On weekends, they would escape the high quality air for the high desert, where Ron continued to work on his hobby of photography.

When the smoke finally cleared (as much as it ever does in Loma Linda), Dr. G. resettled in his Home and native Land. The decision to come home was not made lightly; it was Ron and Janet’s hope to raise a family, and they wished to be near to an Adventist School so that they could offer any upcoming children a Christian Education without having to go off to a boarding school while still young. They settled down, and he got to the business of establishing his Dental practice in Langley.

But… no children! They were ready to become parents, but the stork had been stubborn about arriving. Finally, in January of 1970, they were blessed with the adoption of their first child, a girl they named Larissa R. She brought a lot of joy, but there was still much room for more in the home. Brenden S. arrived in August of 1972, a little codger not yet one year old. The family was rounded out and completed in November of 1973 with the arrival of the caboose, when Shelby D. was born to Ron and Janet. From day one, it was no secret to Larissa and Brenden that they were adopted. Rather, they grew up with a profound sense that they were very much loved and had been “chosen” by their parents.

Ron enjoyed adventures of travel and the great outdoors. He rode motorcycles off-road, canoed many lakes and rivers, and explored hard to reach areas for hidden gems like natural hot springs or beautiful views. He loved the ocean and water sports, and many family vacations were spent waterskiing and wind surfing. Snow skiing was a favorite winter activity. Ron was of the opinion that these things were far too enjoyable to be kept exclusive, so often other relatives or friends were brought along to share in the fun. Time and again, he proved to be an expert and patient teacher as he taught his children, as well as many of their friends, the “ropes”.

It was not all fun and games, however. Ron was very disciplined in life’s endeavors. He took good care of himself by keeping a high level of physical fitness and maintained a dedicated and close walk with Jesus. When we kids were growing up, we could count on our Dad being the first to get up. If we were adventuresome, we could creep to the other side of the house to see the light coming from under the door to the study. And when we would peek in, he was always either studying intently or down on his knees… no doubt praying earnestly for guidance in raising the little hellions God ‘blessed’ him with. Then, he would go jogging!

Service to church and family was an integral part of Ron’s life. His family was one that helped to found and build the Aldergrove Seventh-day Adventist Church. He served the church in the capacities of Deacon, Elder, sound technician, and spent many years as the Aldergrove church clerk. He also opened his house numerous times for Friday evening Youth vespers programs. Additionally, when there was a void, he stepped into what he considered a very out of character role as Pathfinder Director. Yet in the six years he served with Janet in this role, the club grew from less than a dozen kids to the largest and one of the most active in the conference, with nearly 40 members. In making sure HIS children received this opportunity, he also mentored many others in the process.

For thirty-four years, Ron ‘practiced’ Dentistry. He took pride in his work and did quite well. One person within the profession even claimed that his acrylic restorations were the best she’d ever seen. But, the work was not an all-consuming passion for him. This, he saved for his family. It was a means to an end, a way of providing for his loved ones. Fortunately, for much of his career he was surrounded by staff members, some of whom spent a very long time with him, who did an excellent job of easing the stress of the routine and keeping him sane. This, he appreciated greatly

But eventually, he decided it was time to start a new career to practice at, called RETIREMENT! In his eagerness to start on this new adventure, Ron made the move a bit earlier than originally planned. And he loved every minute of it! Friends, family, and former colleagues can attest to this based upon the permanent grin that was affixed to his face. He traveled, he relaxed, he visited the grandkids! (but he did not relax while visiting the grandkids). More times than one could count, he was heard saying, “Life is good!”

Then, the troubles began. This past December, Ron came down with flu-like symptoms with significant bone pain. This seemed to be backing off, so he moved forward. But on his trip to Thailand, which he spent over a year planning for, he was hospitalized and diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. It took two weeks to stabilize his blood counts and arrange for him to be transported home, but he and Janet were blessed by many incredibly kind and generous strangers, as well as by a couple of friends.

Ron appeared to respond well to treatment initially. He was greatly encouraged by the support he received from friends and family. But the leukemia returned, and on March 21st, he was informed of the medically irreversible results of the disease process. He was anointed, and thousands of prayers were offered on his behalf literally from all over the world. However, God, who knows the beginning from the end, saw fit to not intervene. Ron did not once complain. At home, with his whole family present, he passed quietly to his rest on Sunday morning, April 1st.

Ronald W. G. is survived by his wife, Janet; his two sisters, Dolores and Rita; as well as his three children, Larissa, Brenden, and Shelby. Additionally, he leaves behind 10 grandchildren: Kendra, Byron, Zachary. And Michael, James, John, Tom, Mai Ying, Maivnkauj, and Na… all of whom were chosen much like their Grandpa chose his kids. Oh, and by a big family, a big church family, and many good friends.


Allan said...

Thank-you for sharing that again. And thank-you for sharing him with us.

Ron said...

You did an excellent job! We will all miss him greatly. Jan