From his friend Peter:
I met Ron around 2010. We both had storage lockers at a Public Storage on Aurora. At that time I lived in my car and he usually stayed at a shelter. I don’t know which shelters he used to stay at, but he sometimes got work from the Millionair Club. He was from the Sacramento area but had lived here for many years.
He was once a used car salesman and was a divorcee, but had no children. He drank a lot but was always functional. His style was right out of the early 60s: slicked-back hair, button-down shirt, sunglasses. Like he was always ready to cruise the boulevard in a hot rod. And he was a tough guy. Skinny as a rail, about 5’4″ and walked with a limp, he still wouldn’t hesitate to chew out someone twice his size.
Around 2013 or 2014 he started getting social security checks, which was huge for him. My fondest memory is talking to him in the parking lot over a cigarette as he looked at an unused shack on the Home Depot property. He wanted to use his social security money to buy the shack and start a little business and wanted me to work for him. This never happened of course, but he was still making plans. His spirit was not broken.
I once drove him around to look at apartments. Eventually he got on a waiting list for an apartment downtown, but I don’t remember where . It was specifically for underprivileged senior citizens though.
We were friends but he tried his best to look out for me. I think in his mind it was an older man-younger man dynamic and he wanted to take more of an authoritative role. It was usually me helping him out, but I never rubbed it in. It probably disappointed him, nonetheless.
Occasionally he would accidently show me the anger and hurt inside him. When talking about a labor gig he had, he’d repeat the condescending tone that his boss used to talk to him. He wasn’t intentionally complaining, he was just telling a story and the pain came out.
But he spent his social security money on a car. He was so proud of it. I forget what it was, but it was an older car that, in my opinion, someone who grew up in the 50s would think is cool. Because of his drinking, I knew it was bad news. And within a few months he drove the car into a ditch and spent a few months in jail. When he got out I was happy to see him, but he was embarrassed. He had also broken a leg, which slowed him down and took a toll.
He occasionally made trips down to California to stay with his elderly mother, but always came back. That’s where he was when he was slowly limping across the street early one morning before the sun was up and got hit by a car that didn’t see him. That was December 4th and, tough guy that he was, he held on for 10 days without regaining consciousness. He died on the 14th.
He was a fixture in the city for many years, and I’m sure that many people that I never met knew him. That’s his story as best as I can tell it.
Ron’s Leaf is at Seattle Central Library. If you have photos or memories to share please post a comment.