I’m delighted to share some pictures of Lake Forest College’s developing memorial for Ron. As Ron, my dad, told me many times over the years, “I would like to be cremated and have my ashes put under the tree outside Reid Hall that was planted by the Interfaith Center and was directly under my window for many years.” And so it is. And the whole reason that Ron wanted to be cremated is because he wanted people to continue to grow around him, not mourn over him.
I met with and worked with an administrator at Lake Forest College [LFC] named Tim State, a person I knew from when he was a student at LFC. I owe a very special “thank you” to Tim for his pivotal role in making this all happen. Last spring, we walked the campus to peruse a few of the prospective locations ranging from a preserve on the outskirts of campus to another serene spot until finally… the PERFECT site was offered: the courtyard of Reid Hall and the chapel. This space is near Ron’s ashes, his former [longest-term] office, it overlooks all of Middle Campus and is embraced by the cathedral-like arms of the chapel. It is a powerful location.
We utilized the bench that had been there for decades and refreshed it on a new cement platform. There is an oak tree at the base of this platform that was planted in the last five years that will sprout above this space for the coming two centuries. Cemented in the platform is the plaque dedicating the space to Ron.
I need to thank another alum of LFC, and one of Ron’s closest friends, Tom Meier, for his help in translating the valediction into German. The words mean “Our love for You is Deathless” in which “deathlessness” was something from Ron’s book on “The Gospel of Thomas.” The Gospel of Thomas states that “Whoever finds the correct interpretation of these sayings will never die.” It does not speak of immortality, of course, but instead, of our activities. I felt that these words spoke strongly to the epitaph on this plaque and the work that Ron dedicated his life to, both inside and outside of LFC. The German was a personal tribute to Ron’s love for Germany and a moment of education for each visitor that someday translates the inscription.
This space is dedicated on behalf of everyone who knew Ron: His friends, family and colleagues everywhere. The work that is remaining to be done is the cement work on the base of the bench, so that it looks like one solid structure. This will be done in the spring and I will be sure to post more info here on the website once that happens.