I worked with Ron for quite a while and collaborated with him on many presentations and workshops in the early stages of the Grenzenlos Deutsch project. In fact, Grenzenlos Deutsch wouldn’t exist without him. I could go on and on about the ways in which he helped us, but a few highlights: he was the one whose passion for OER first sparked my idea to make this project open-access, he was the one who suggested specific interactive tools for the project, he was the one who pulled me into a small grant that brought our team the support for all the video editing, he was the one who helped us write the NEH grant application (and wrote the Data Management Plan in its entirety—which was singled out for praise from our NEH program officer), etc etc etc. And of course, Ron, Amy (our other project leader), and I worked together on the workshop for our entire team last summer in Vienna, where Ron provided ongoing support as the rest of the team wrote the bulk of the content.
While Ron was a very private person, I got to know him over the course of all this work and to value him so much for the kind, modest, thoughtful person he was. We talked politics, movies, and OER. And this past summer, we talked travel: Ron helped me and Amy prepare for our workshop in Vienna by arranging for extra computers and gear, helping me select components that he knew we would need. We talked a lot about how to get all the STUFF to Europe, which was pretty funny given that Ron’s own suitcase was lost on the way overseas. He spent the week in Vienna helping us, but also talking to every airline and airport involved, trying to track down his luggage. We all felt SO bad for him! But Ron took it in stride and made jokes about the fact that at least his AirBnB had a washer and dryer so that he could wash his one change of clothes. Fortunately, his suitcase caught up with him the day before he left Vienna, and the rest of his travel—south to Italy—went without a hitch. I’m glad he was able to extend his time in Europe for a more relaxing segment.
I feel so grateful that I had two good visits with Ron while he was in the rehab facility, since we had wonderful talks there. He was so determined to make a full recovery. He told me that the rehab work he was doing was the hardest thing he had ever done, but he pushed himself hard, too, because he was so eager to get back home and get back to work. The horrible irony is that he was almost there, almost ready to get back to work. He told me again and again during his recovery about how he couldn’t wait to get back to work, particularly because he was bored during the long recovery process. That was just like Ron, eager to get to work, to use his brain, and to be useful to others. I hope he knows how much we appreciate how he shared his talents with the those of us on the GD team.
Ron was an advocate for open educational resources and the faculty and students who work with them. His work with us on Grenzenlos Deutsch has been invaluable. He will be missed by many people in the Macalester community, but also by all of us on the GD team as well. Here’s what team members said upon hearing the sad news:
“I’m so sorry to hear this. It was so wonderful having Ron in Vienna with us, and I know he had a huge impact on bringing the project to fruition.”
“I am so sorry to hear about Ron. He truly was a tremendous source of support, and worked tirelessly to get our project up and running.”
“What terrible news! We are sending our thoughts out to his family, friends, and colleagues.”
“Ron was an invaluable member of the team and we could not have gotten things running so smoothly in Vienna without his guidance and expertise.”
“I am really sad to read this. I fondly remember collaborating with Ron in Vienna; he was so kind and helpful. The Grenzenlos project greatly benefitted from his input and his expertise in copyright and open access resources.”
“I remember Ron and all the care and patience he has for our project—answering all the questions, looking into all the details, always supportive. And I am happy he got to travel (alas, without suitcase, as I remember) a bit that summer.”
“I’m at a loss for what to say. This is such terrible news. He was such a kind soul and he will be missed terribly.”
“I am so sorry to hear about Ron. He was and is such an integral part of our project. His patience and thoughtfulness impressed me most.”
The Grenzenlos Deutsch team has made a donation to the Macalester Fund in Ron’s memory.
Contributed by Britt Abel and the Grenzenlos Deutsch Team