Last week, Davis lost one of the pillars of the community, Ron Broward. Unknown to many, Ron stayed under the publicity radar. He performed his good deeds as part of his everyday life. He did not seek out accolades; in fact, he often shied away from them.
Back in the late 70s, he developed and built housing for the low-income and elderly in Woodland and Davis, both still well-maintained and pleasant living facilities.
Even though a successful developer and businessman (apartments, office buildings, Sudwerk), in the early mornings I often saw Ron sweeping the parking lot at the Davisville Professional Center. I’ll always remember him in his high-mileage white pickup wearing his usual khaki pants and shirt. Pretense and being stylish were not characteristics of Ron. What drove him was being honest, doing a thorough job and helping his family.
An ex-Marine, Ron persevered through whatever bad times came his way with courage and determination. Not many people know of his selfless dedication to helping locate and identify the remains of missing GIs of the Korean War. During his later years, Ron spent countless hours, using his own funds, to travel to Washington and Pearl Harbor in that pursuit. When he spoke of a rare success, gained only after many hours of research, to finally be able to make a connection of remains of a deceased GI with a family, his voice would tremble with emotion and pride.
By living his life the way he did, Ron exemplified Ralph Waldo Emerson’s thought that it is one of the most beautiful compensations in life that one cannot sincerely try to help another without helping him or herself. Over the years, whether asked or not, Ron would always be there to help; he asked nothing in return. I know, though, that he gained much joy for these acts of kindness. I could see it by the sparkle in his eyes.
I will miss him — not only as the wonderful person he was but also as a true inspiration to me as to how to live my life.