Ronald Wesley Cronk, affectionately known as "Uncle Ron", drank his last cup of coffee on July 30, 2018. Raised in his family's cafes in Iowa and California, and a lifelong bachelor, he was a beloved "regular" of many coffee shops during his lifetime. He was nicknamed the Deacon for his deadpan wit. A great storyteller, his sense of humor endeared him to many, many nieces, nephews and friends, and it was his calling card for making new friends, young and old, up until the very end.
Ron enlisted in the Army Air Corps in April, 1943, as a pilot. Stationed on Corsica with the 445th Squadron/321st Bombardment Group, he flew 15 missions over Italy during September 1944 that earned him seven air medals and a Purple Heart. He was injured and disabled by a landmine, but made nearly a full recovery after 15 months of hospitalization in Europe and the U.S.
Returning home to Monrovia, California from the war, Ron raced motorcycles, hiked the mountains of Southern California scouting for airplane crash sites, showed and bred Morgan horses and ran Verbeck's Parts store in Pasadena for 20 years. In 1968, he moved to Murrieta, California to help his friend Willie Williamson run the thoroughbred farm, Los Cerritos Ranch. As the head of maintenance, Ron engineered and built a mile-long racetrack, two reservoirs, and three 38-stall race barns. He retired in 1989 when the owner, William T. Pascoe III closed the ranch.
Nature watching with his many treasured guy friends was a true passion. He loved to camp, fish, and go boating. He enjoyed falconry and was an avid birdwatcher.
He was devoted to and preceded in death by his two sisters, Juanita Joy Cronk-Bartlett and Carol Corinna Cronk-Pickett, his niece Susan Pickett and his parents, Dora Ione Hook and Lovell Joy Cronk of Iowa. He is survived by his nieces Donna Eggleston, Carol Faith, Linda Greis, Barbara Johnson and Sandy Bartlett, as well as many other wonderful relatives.
A funeral service was held at Valley Evangelical Church on Monday, August 6, 2018, in Hemet, California.