Monday, April 05, 2010

Remembering Ron Turk

I found out last week that my old friend Ron Turk has passed away. The initial shock of this unexpected shard of news gradually gave way to sadness, longing and – most of all – profound appreciation for Ron’s friendship over the years.

Ron and I met 25 years ago in sophomore biology class at Bellaire High School. Even back then, Ron was a great conversationalist, which may explain why my biology grade went from A to C as we got to know each other better. I'm pretty sure he was the only person in class who thought it was hilarious when I stood up from my desk one day and turned out the classroom lights because I mistakenly thought I heard the teacher ask me to.

Ron was both smart and wise. While I was immersed in the obnoxious words and deeds of generalized adolescent rebellion and blanket disdain for convention, Ron was able to see beyond all that. He sought out the good in people and didn't allow himself to be constrained by social boundaries.

Our friendship continued when we both landed in Austin to attend UT. We had a couple of auditorium-sized undergraduate classes together and I admired the way Ron would get to know the professors. I was always too shy to do that. A few years later, Ron had the ear of the UT System Board of Regents when he led an effort to get UT to divest its tobacco holdings. He understood the incremental nature of social change and knew studied pragmatism would take his causes much further than a thousand holier-than-thou rants.

Many times over the course of our college years, Ron listened patiently to my inebriated, self-depreciating discourse on being perennially lovelorn. Deep down, I bet Ron knew the culprits of my condition were emotional immaturity coupled with abject fear of rejection, but he never blew me off with a blunt summation like that. On the contrary, his counsel was always offered with a great deal of both wit and affection. When you were talking with Ron, you were talking. The things he said stuck with you.

Even though we'd only been in touch sporadically in the post-graduate years, I always thought in the back of my mind that Ron and I would reconnect over beers one day and pick back up right where we left off. Days after hearing the news, I still can't fully believe I won't see him again, but I will always treasure memories of the times we had together. He is truly a friend for the ages.


Björn Lindmark, Sweden said...

Hi Greg,

Like yourself, I was chocked and saddened hearing that Ron has left us. I got to know Ron in debate class as an exchange student to Bellaire high school. Although I sadly lost contact with Ron the last ten years or so, he remains one of the best friends I have ever known.

I can only agree with your description of him. He had an intensity and depth I will always remember.

Anonymous said...

Hi Greg - I found your blog when googling Ron's name. I just found out about his passing and although I haven't really talked to him in years I remember him fondly. I hope you are well and congratulations on your marriage and son.

Julie Toro Kirk

Jaye Ramsey Sutter said...

I knew of Ron as he was in law school with my husband. We just learned of Ron's death and we are both heartbroken. He was amazing, kind, concerned and compassionate. Your comment that when you talked to Ron, you were talking is spot on. He cared.

I am so sorry he is gone.