Fair winds and following seas for Ron

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, February 7, 2024

By Les Ferguson Jr.

My friend Ron went home to glory this past Saturday. I first met him through a convergence of friends when I was seventeen. I was semi-dating a girl whose parents were friends and co-workers with Ron and his not-yet-wife Sharon. 

My lifetime of friendship with Ron (and Sharon) began in earnest when I was thirty, married with children, and a new, barely out-of-the-box youth minister. Since then, I’ve had 31-plus years to be teased, insulted, and ragged on by Ron. 

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Some of those times are epic, but one story stands out. Truth be told, it’s a story I’ve shared more times than I can remember.

This event took place on a Sunday night at church. Back then, youth ministers preached on Sunday night services. Fewer people in attendance meant less to be offended, less to be embarrassed, and most importantly, less of an opportunity to create a spectacle.

But on this occasion, Ron created the spectacle for me. 

A side note before I share all the gory details. This is the church that helped me become a preaching minister. I learned a lot there – including not to lead the Battle Hymn of the Republic on singing nights. As it happened, I was informed loudly and stridently of the heretofore unknown fact that the song was Yankee propaganda, and I was never to sing it again. 

And now you know where some of my nervous anxiety came from as I got up to preach on this all-Ron-inspired momentous occasion. 

When I got up to preach, I laid my Bible and notes on the pulpit and took a deep breath before beginning my introduction. But before I could utter a single word, Ron proceeded to unfold an entire newspaper and read—as if I weren’t there or he was entertaining himself while a boring sermon was delivered. 

And my response once past the initial shock? I laughed. Loudly and enthusiastically. As the church caught on, I was joined in my laughter. 

To this day, I have no idea what my sermon was about, but I preached that night from a much more comfortable and relaxed posture. 

That was Ron. He always had a smile, laugh, and comment. Most of those comments first came as an insult or otherwise derogatory word – with the expectation of getting the same in return.

It was all done in love and fun. In fact, I hardly remember an interaction where Ron didn’t get the last word by saying the three best words: “I love you.”

That was Ron. We shared much including the sailor experience in Uncle Sam’s Navy. He was my friend. He was my brother. He will be tremendously missed. As said in the Navy, “fair winds and following seas.”

”Oil and incense bring joy to the heart, and the sweetness of a friend is better than self-counsel.“ Proverbs‬ 27‬:9‬ CSB‬‬