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Ron Lahav 1941-2009
This stream starts in a unusual place, just before Ron's death. Because of failing health and eyesight he was forced to retire from his editorial position on FOTW, and several of these messages were posted just before his sudden death, but they give insight into his importance to our FOTW family. As another indication of this, you will discover that there are over 5,000 postings made by Ron on the FOTW list.
It was of great sadness to me personally, that Ron Lahav has retired from fotw. Ron is one of the most educated people that I have ever had the pleasure of communicating with, and will continue to do so off-list. I do realise that the subject matters, or for that matter, the Vexillological content that interested Ron are of no particular interest to many readers on this mailing list, but would however, like to draw your attention to the hard work that Ron put in in his "stint" up here. He has spent countless hours on research work, most noticably "flags on stamps."
Ron has retired from "public life" once before due to his rapidly deteriorating eyesight, a fate which could befall any one of us. It is to Ron's credit, however that he was determined not to "give-up," and so came back off the ropes to join up with us once again. This is what I call determination. I will miss you as a fellow fotw-er, Ron Lahav.
Martin Grieve, Vorna Valley, Midrand, South Africa
I should like to support the comments made by Martin regarding Ron's contribution to the FOTW list. Ron and I shared many vexillogical interests. Since I have been a subscriber to the FOTW mailing list, I too have corresponded with Ron off list and have also had the pleasure of meeting Ron and his wife, Kathy, in the real world, and now know him to be not only, as Martin said, highly educated but moreover, willing to share his knowledge in a very courteous and helpful manner. He is a very kind, tolerant and decent man and I too will miss his presence on the FOTW list.
Colin Dobson, Oxford, United Kingdom
I should like to support the comments made by Martin regarding Ron's contribution to the FOTW list. Make that three of us. I've already written to him off-list and suggest he becomes a "read-only" member of the list, but, with his eyesight problems this may not be practical, sadly.
James Dignan, Dunedin, New Zealand
With modern screen reader technology it should be possible for Ron to at least hear what is being said on the list. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the images of the list.
David Newton, United Kingdom
What I will always remember about Ron Lahav is his delightful wit and sense of humour. I hope it will continue to sustain him spiritually. Shalom!
I second, also, what has been said here about technology .... enlarged screens, or audio devices are, I believe, available ... whether our dear "schmendrick" can or wants to use them is, of course, his decision.
However, I hope that his cheerful bride can read him these tributes and wishes for his health and happiness.
Bill Dunning, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
Yesterday morning, I printed off the messages for Ron, those which had been received on this thread and those which some other members of the FotW community had taken the trouble to send to me off list, to take with me to Newcastle upon Tyne, in the far north east of England, some 5 hours drive from my house. As it happened, I also printed off a large copy Ė due to Ronís not so good eyesight - of a photograph I had taken on my recent trip to the Great State of New Jersey, exactly one month ago, when I had occasion to transact some business at a municipal office and they permitted me to photograph their flag, which incidentally we donít yet have an image of on FotW, but more of this in another posting.
As I motored along the A1, in my little black car, past The Angel of the North in a heavy rainstorm, I telephoned Kathy, Ronís wife, to make arrangements to meet with her, when she had occasion to impart the sad news to me that Ron had not had a very good night and had passed away at 0130 Greenwich Mean Time, Monday 30 November 2009 in the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne. Later, I visited Kathy and she asked me to let the other members of the list know.
In one of those strange occurrences in life, Kathy also told me that she and Ron had been in New Jersey at the same time as I had, only one month ago and subsequently I worked out from the gadget in the hire car that, unbeknown to us, we were within just ten minutes of each other, at the time I was photographing the municipal flag!
Shortly after I joined the list circa 2004 Ė for years I never even knew it existed - Ron was the very first person from this list that I had occasion to correspond with off list and who I actually met, in the real world, within a very short space of time. We got on very well straight away and shared a penchant not only for obscure American municipal flags, but for old fashioned English hotels and restaurants. That afternoon, in the City of Chester, with his lovely wife Kathy, we never ran out of subjects about which to converse and it is a measure of his kindness and generosity that, never having met me in the real world before, he presented me with two flag books, which I have referred to many times since. Of course, I didnít realise at the time that Ron was increasingly unable to make use of them himself, due to his failing eyesight.
For someone who had worked during a varied and interesting career as a University lecturer, this must have been particularly frustrating and indeed, his failing eyesight was one of the reasons why he was unable to participate as much as he would have liked in this community. Back then, he described to me his research for the FotW web site as keeping him sane. If there ever was a man who faced his health issues with a resilient and combative spirit, then Ron was that man. It was a pleasure to see how he handled the stick to move the crowds of people in Chester that afternoon, out of the way and how he just got on with his life.
Although I never knew him when he was a teacher, it is quite obvious that his love of knowledge and imparting that to other people never left him. He was a scholarly, kind man and possessed of a generous spirit. In the short time that I knew him, I learned a lot from him and I will miss him.
God rest his soul.
Colin Dobson, Oxford, United Kingdom
Both personally and on behalf of the Members and Executive of Flags Australia, I am saddened to read of Ron's death, especially as he was not able meet up with Colin one last time. You have been a very good friend and colleague to Ron. Please pass on our sincere condolences to his wife, Kathy. Sincere regards,
Ralph Bartlett, President, Flags Australia
What a pity that fate decreed that he never saw the emails and the photo - that "timing gap" in New Jersey would have amused him. Please pass on my condolences to Kathy, if you are in contact with her. It is a measure of the man that there have been so many responses to your email today.
Richard Mallett, Eaton Bray, Dunstable, South Beds, United Kingdom
Really sad news. Rest in peace, Ron.
Vanja Poposki, Skopje, Macedonia
It is sad to read, that Ron Lahav is gone. My sorrow to his family. May his soul rest in peace.
J. Patrick Fischer, Free State of Bavaria, Germany, European Union
This is sad news indeed and I am sure we will miss Ron dearly. Let us also thank Colin for his moving tribute.
Jan Mertens, Edegem, Belgium
It is a sad news indeed. In the last few years I had very pleasant correspondence with Ron over a number of topics both on the list and off. He had a vast knowledge in many fields. I believe that the last mail he sent me was a few moths back kindly congratulating me on the book, in spite of his progressing illness and bad eye-sight. We are going to miss him dearly.
Željko Heimer, Pazinska, Zagreb, Croatia
Please express my deepest sincere condolences to Ron's wife Kathy for me. May God keep his memory in eternity. I extend my condolences also to all the members of "Flags Forum" who mourn his passing.
(Father) John Udics
I cannot think of anything to add that has not already been said by other members of the list. Please pass on my sincere condolences and best wishes to Kathy. Though I never met Ron, I shall miss his messages on the list. May he rest gentle and safe.
James Dignan, Dunedin, New Zealand
I did not personally know him, but we can see part of his legacy on the website through his posts and shared experience with us members and all the visitors of the website. My condolences to his wife and family.
Esteban Rivera, MedellŪn, Colombia
I did not expect to start my "rule" over the FOTW list with a sad news. I would like to dedicate my "enthronment" to Ron, who probably would have made witty comments on the new "ruler." As he admitted it often in our correspondence, everytime with a different, colourful metaphor, Ron must have been the most muddle-headed contributor ever to the list. Handling his contributions was, however, never a boring task, because Ron was powered by enthusiasm and naivety. I realize that being kept in touch with the FOTW community was very important for him. Considering myself that securing the links between the members of our community should be the main goal of the list management, I am proud to have contributed to it.
I would like to thank Colin for his visit to Newcastle and his vivid and sensitive portray of Ron. I wish I have, too, used appropriate words to express my respect to Ron's memory, please accept my apologizes for linguistic mistakes.
Ron, as well as the other deceased FOTWers, would probably agree that "Flags must go on!" As tribute to their memory, let us keep the flags flying high.
Ivan Sache, Versailles, Sarkobruniland, France
My sympathies to Ron's wife Kathy and family. Thank you so much Colin for such a fine portrait of Ron. I did not correspond with Ron, and though a long time member, am mostly just a background member. I do well remember so many of Ron's postings and comments. I was particularly struck by Colin's reference that FOTW kept Ron sane. At this moment of loss, it reminds me of Ron and all the list members whose research, postings, comments, and humanity make the list such a great place ... and helps keep me sane, and brings such knowledge and enjoyment to my life. For many of us, even though silent, the flag list is an important part of our lives. With thanks to all, and in memory of Ron, may this great monument flourish.
Lee Herold, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
This is really depressing news. Not only has the list been a less lively place since Ron left, but my personal correspondence with him was delightful as well; he was one of the few people I've known who were capable of positively radiating joie de vivre, even through a PC monitor. He will be (indeed is) much missed.
Eugene Ipavec, Tustin, Orange County, California, USA
I'm sorry to receive this notice, although I did not know Ron personally, I could see his great contributions to FOTW. My heartfelt condolences to his family and may God cover him in his Holy Glory.
Jairo Alonso Mändez Mändez, Anapoima (Cundinamarca), Republic of Columbia
Something like five years ago, I assisted Ron off-list in creating a simple flag image. For me a simple issue, but I'm no good at explaining, as I tend to give far too much background. For Ron this wasn't a simple issue, something new he was struggling with, and he bore with me through several messages until I managed to explain how to do what he wanted to accomplish. I would have thought that, him being a lecturer, he would have found my explanations a disaster, but last year I found out his actual opinion: On the list, he wrote that he regarded me as one of his mentors in Vex matters. Well, that must have been limited to vex matters, as for every other aspect of life he probably was much more experienced than me. And if, as the Jewish faith tells us, the soul is purified by shame for the things done wrong in this world, I trust not much of that experience will be a torture to him. May his all-knowing soul then find its place. May Kathy be comforted among the mourners of this world.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, Sneek, Friesland, The Netherlands
That is sad news, and God rest his soul indeed.
Christopher Southworth, Lancashire, England
Ron was the older son of congregants at Temple Israel of Norfolk, Virginia, USA, where I serve as the rabbi. I was quite close to Jules and Frieda, remarkable people, refugees from Nazi Germany who built meaningful and good lives for themselves in our congregation and community. They raised their two sons, Ron and Stan, to appreciate Jewish and humane values, to love the Jewish People and the State of Israel.
Ron came to Norfolk to honor his parents when they reached a milestone birthday, perhaps a decade ago. He and I hit it off immediately. We had a bracing intellectual friendship from the start, and over the course of our correspondence - carried on with some pauses on my part, but on his part, always with immediate and voluminous responses - Ron won my heart as well as my head. Intelligent, fluent, humorous, he alternately enlightened and tickled me with his incisive analysis and his individualistic perspective.
I shall indeed miss him. Please convey my respects and my condolences to Kathleen. May the memory of Ron ben Yonah ha-Levi be remembered as a blessing! kol tuv,
Dr. Michael Panitz, Rabbi, Temple Israel of Norfolk, Virginia, USA
in memoriam ce 2009