I have witnessed the flag at half mast at different times in my life. It signifies loss. it is a reminder for those who see it that someone or a group of people, as the most recent case with the tragedy in Boston, have left this earth. Ironically, this particular flag was flown at half mast on the same day that the Boston incident occurred, but this flag was flown for one man. A wonderful, Godly and loving man. Dr. Ronald Reoch, the father of my husband.
Here is what we, as a family, wrote about him for his eulogy:
Ronald Reoch. Born September 11, 1946 in Detroit, MI, he was the eldest son to Marjorie and Edwin Reoch and brother to Jerry, Rick, Joanne and Tom. On June 8, 1968 he married Karen Kreeger, whom he met when he was in 8th grade. They lived down the street from one another and grew up together through junior high and into high school. They have five children. Scott and (Susan) Reoch, Matt and (Laura) Reoch, Stephanie and (Matt) Van Dyk, Beth and (Jason) Boyer and Paul and (Liz) Reoch. Together they have 15 grandchildren. He was a member of Agape Christian Church in Kalamazoo. Ron received a degree from Oakland University, attended dental school at the University of Detroit School of Dentistry and completed his graduate work at the University of Michigan Dental School. He served his country for two years in the United States Air Force as a Captain. He practiced as an Endodontist in Portage for over 30 years and went on many mission trips all over the world including Madagascar, Haiti, Latvia and Guatemala. Ron was a recreational pilot. He was a faithful sports fan, especially for Detroit sports, and a natural athlete himself. He excelled in virtually all sports, most notably water sports, skiing and biking. He was an avid golfer who played the greens from Schuss Mountain in Michigan to Pebble Beach in California and all the way to St. Andrews in Scotland. His passion for adventure led him to try almost every extreme sport there is from kite tubing to sky diving. He was a chocolate connoisseur. He wasn’t happy if he didn’t have a list. He was a lover of words such as insalubrious, prestidigitation, gutta-percha and tough. He was kind, patient and giving even in the most difficult of times. He was diagnosed with ALS and fought the good fight for nearly 10 years before his passing at his home on April 14th, 2013. We were so blessed to have him with us for as long as we did. We watched him gracefully transition from taking his grandchildren for Papa walks to Papa rides on his wheel chair. He never lost his sense of humor or his patience and never complained about his situation. He brought out the best in people and inspired them to be better than they were because of the example he was. He walked with grace and honor, even when his legs failed him. His dedication and service to the Lord touched the lives of many. He was an incredible role model and the loss we feel today is too deep for words. He will be remembered for his love for his family, his devotion to God, his humor and his generosity.
Matt’s father was the first to die, in his entire family. He was survived by his wife, siblings, parents, everyone. At the funeral, Mr. McClelland, who is a pastor and one of Ron’s dear friends said, “Ron was a great man who not only showed us all how to live, but he showed us all how to die.” No truer words have been spoken. He walked a graceful life and in the end, when his body was taken from him, he still acted with dignity and grace and was a shining example of a human being.
On the day of the funeral, I was faced with a difficult decision. I had brought my camera along but wasn’t sure if I was even going to pull it out. The day was so beautiful though, and I found myself needing to take photographs, as I sometimes do. I became an observer as well as a participant and although it was difficult at times, many of the family members came up to me and thanked me for documenting the afternoon. He will be missed by all who knew him. He left some very large shoes to fill and I think, because of the example he was, those who follow in his footsteps will walk a more graceful and better life than they would have on their own.