Ronald A. Hetz
Ronald Anton Hetz was born to August and Florence (nee Guttman) Hetz on April 10, 1941. He was the oldest of three children. He was baptized on May 9, 1948 at Holy Cross Lutheran Church on Miami Street in St. Louis and was confirmed there on April 3, 1955. Through the church and it's school he met his wife Ellen (nee Stahl). After grade school Ron attended Cleveland High School for one year, then finished high school at Hadley Technical School (later renamed O’Fallon Technical School).
The activities Ron enjoyed as a youth influenced and remained a part of his entire life. He was an active in Boy Scouts, a member of Troop 119 chartered by Holy Cross, where he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. He was active in Walther League (a Lutheran organization which brought together youth for fellowship). He attended Concordia Turners, a physical fitness and fellowship organization with the motto “Strong Mind, Strong Body”. He was a third generation “Turner”, and now his four grandchildren are 5th generation “Turners”.
After graduating from high school, Ron served his country by enlisting in the United States Navy. He trained and became a “Seabee” attached to MCB-1 (Mobile Construction Battalion 1). This experience took him around the world, including time at the South Pole. He participated in the naval blockade of Cuba during the missile crisis.
After his honorable discharge from active military service he worked as an auto mechanic while in the Navy Reserves. He married Ellen, his “Wif” of almost 55 years, at Holy Cross Lutheran on July 10, 1965.
After his time as a mechanic and working as an electrician for the city of St. Louis putting in street lights, he was offered and took a job as an IBEW Local 1 electrician with McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, headquartered in St. Louis. His tenure at the company lasted through mergers and name changes, McDonnell becoming McDonnell-Douglas, and merging with Boeing Aircraft. He worked there until his retirement.
Ron’s leisure activities almost always had a physical component to them. As a young man, he served his church, Holy Cross, by working to improve the building. This service for the church didn’t stop when he transferred churches and became a member of Ascension Lutheran Church on the corner of Donovan and Eichelberger. He also helped with the youth group at Ascension. He set up camp and cooked at the youth’s annual camping and canoe float. Ron could be found in the kitchen flipping pancakes at youth fundraiser breakfasts in the church fellowship hall or school gym.
Ron and Ellen brought two children, Ross and Rachel, into the world and his lifelong interests included them. He continued to be involved in scouting, mentoring his son up to eventually serve as Cub and Scout master of Pack 34 and Troop 34. Throughout his life, he served his Lord and Savior by using his gifts to make repairs on the church he attended, Ascension Lutheran Church and school, Word of Life. He served on the church property committee, school board, and was PTL president during his children’s elementary education. He introduced them to Concordia Turners, helped with maintenance of the facility and mowed the lawn.
He was a life-long Boy Scout and Scouter. Always involved with the Trail Guides horsemanship program, he led youth on day rides to week-long, 100-mile “long” rides, and drove wagon teams at Beaumont Scout Reservation. He volunteered his time and skills to the Boy Scout Council after he retired. Scouting was a passion he shared with his brother, son, nephews, grandson, and many lifelong friends. His Scouting passion inspired his son to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. In addition to horsemanship, he brought his love of fishing to scouting, volunteering as a Canoe Guide with his son, son-in-law and friends during spring and fall weekends at S-Bar-F Scout Ranch near Farmington Missouri and teaching fishing at summer camporees. Even in the final year of his earthly life Ron patiently mentored his grandson in knot-tying and helped him and fellow scouts earn their “whittling chip”. His Scouting honors went beyond the rank of Eagle Scout to include receiving the Order of the Arrow, Vigil Order of the Arrow, District Within Award from the Thunderbird District, and Silver Beaver Award.
Ronald extended his volunteer service to help with spaghetti dinners and fish fries hosted by American Legion Post 111. He chauffeured his wife, children and grandchildren to or from school. With Ellen he attended concerts, church functions, and helped her prepare her Sunday School lessons. He preferred being outside. Ron enjoyed trips to and through Missouri’s state parks and Grant’s Farm, fishing at Lake of the Ozarks and Lake Taneycomo, wade fishing in streams, and many other outdoor activities. And he was the happiest when he was with his family, and with friends outdoors.
Ron was never reluctant to express his opinions, and didn’t hesitate to push people’s buttons – sometimes in jest, and at other times to get them to think a little more deeply. His facial expression would reveal which type of button he was pushing. He was truthful and told it like he saw it, in sometimes unexpected and very literal ways. If you asked him how he felt he would answer, “With my fingers.” He possessed the incredible gift of fully thinking through a problem and the options to solve it before taking any action. He loved drinking beer, smoking cigars or a pipe, and he loved his Lord.
In early 2020, Ron was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer that metastasized to his brain. He endured both radiation and chemotherapy, fighting for the life God had given him. After a mostly gradual decline in health and strength, he entered hospice care in June after a stay at the hospital for almost a month. Early on the morning of June 26, God chose to call Ron out of this world peacefully, with one of his hospice nurses at his bedside.
Ron is survived by his wife, Ellen, his two children, Ross and Rachel and their spouses, Megan and Mark Hofman and his four grandchildren, Rose, Romy, Rory Hetz, and Matthew Hofman, his brother Randall and sister Rochelle Thornton, several nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, cousins, and in-laws throughout his extended family. He was preceded in death by his parents, and one niece.
Because Ron was always so practical in his life, the family asks that - in lieu of flowers - friends consider giving a memorial gift to any of four organizations that Ron spent a lot of time volunteering for:
Ascension Lutheran Church, 5347 Donovan Ave, St. Louis, MO 63109, specifically for its "Sharing Christ’s Love" Capital Campaign;
The Greater St. Louis Area Council - Boy Scouts of America, designated for the support of its Trail Guides (horsemanship) program;
Concordia Turners, 6432 Gravois Ave, St. Louis, MO 63116, to help purchase a shed for its lawn care equipment;
St. Louis County American Legion Memorial Post 111, 7300 Lansdowne Ave, St. Louis, MO 63119
A Memorial Visitation for Ron will be held on Tuesday, July 7th from 2-8pm at John L. Ziegenhein & Sons Funeral Home (7027 Gravois Ave, St. Louis, MO 63116) and his Memorial Service Wednesday, July 8th at 10am at Holy Cross Lutheran Church (2650 Miami St, St. Louis, MO 63118). Entombment will be private at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. Out of consideration for the health of family and friends, masks will be required to enter the funeral home and the church and social distancing is encouraged.
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