James Ronald "Ron" Conley
Ron, age 68, went home to be with his Lord and Savior on Wednesday morning, May 6, 2020 at Bronson Methodist Hospital, Kalamazoo, MI after a hard-fought battle with COVID-19. James Ronald Conley was known as Ron to most, but he was affectionately called Ronnie by his family, Papa by his grandkids and, over the years, he was known as either Big Ronnie or Papa by the numerous daycare kids that came and went throughout the many years of his wife's in-home daycare.
Ron, the son of James and Joyce (Sloan) Conley, was born on October 1, 1951 in Colorado Springs, CO. He was a 1969 graduate of Albion High School. He retired in 2011 after 41 years of faithful service in management at different Kroger Stores around the region.
He married Roberta Lynn Maddux (Bobbi) on April 10, 1971. They recently celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary. Bobbi, who he affectionately referred to as "sweetheart," was his very best friend. Ron and Bobbi were always together. They loved sitting together reading print newspapers, taking long walks at KCC, vacationing at Bonnet Creek Resort in Florida and doing anything together that involved their kids and grandkids. He loved taking care of his wife and he served her so well. He loved doing anything as long she was by his side.
Ron's favorite hobby was watching his grandkids' sporting events. You could usually find him wearing a Tigers baseball hat, Shamrocks pullover or any Pennfield Panthers shirt. He was a proud sponsor of their teams, first as Forever Friends Child Care and later as Rhino's Plumbing. Ron loved golfing and spent many years playing in golf leagues with his Lansing area buddies. He was also an avid bowler and softball player in his younger adult years. He was very passionate about sports and spent his childhood participating in several of them and later enjoyed watching all kinds on television, especially golf and baseball.
His grandkids were his entire life in his retirement years. He was such a hard worker and took pride in everything he did, particularly maintaining his perfectly manicured green lawn. But he took the most pride in his dedication to his grandkids. He was actively involved in all their daily activities. He enjoyed taking them to school, volunteering in their classrooms, taking them to and from dance classes, tennis lessons, play practice, running them to doctor appointments and anything else he was asked to do. He had such a selfless servant's heart. Whatever he could do to make his kids' lives easier, he was always the first to volunteer. Most of the time, he didn't even need to be asked. It made him feel good to help out however he could. He never missed his eldest two grandkids' sporting events no matter how far the drive, most recently spending a week in Florida watching his oldest granddaughter play softball for Olivet College. His youngest grandson, not yet in school, was his little sidekick for the past few years. He went everywhere with his Papa. Ron was eagerly looking forward to the arrival of a new grandson this September. He had a special way of making each grandkid feel like they were the most important. He was the best example to them of what the love of our heavenly father looks like, fully known and unconditionally loved.
As strong as his love was for his sweetheart, kids and grandkids, Ron had no greater love than his love for his Savior. He gave his life to God in 1983 and never looked back. He laid a strong foundation of faith for his children and grandchildren to follow. His faith made him a man of great integrity, work ethic, compassion and generosity. He and Bobbi together felt a special calling from God to teach younger generations about Jesus, first serving for many years at Battle Creek Bible Church in Space Cubs, then in the Awana program at First Wes and most recently in Woodland Kids Ministry, where he took great pride in greeting each kid by name and with a big welcoming smile. He rarely ever missed a week of serving. He loved attending church together as a family each Sunday, followed by a big lunch together afterwards.
He was so thankful that all three of his children chose to live their adult lives within minutes of their childhood home, where Ron and Bobbi still proudly live today. He was a family man. A devoted husband. A sports enthusiast. But most importantly, a man of God. He was a prayer warrior for others and he would be so honored by the outpouring of prayers for him and his family during his battle with COVID-19.
Surviving are his wife, Bobbi; two daughters, Carole L. Clothier and Veronica A. (Nicholas) Darlington; his son, Ryan D. (Britni) Conley of Battle Creek; six precious grandchildren, Kaylee, Seth, Gracie, Avin, Kailyn and Rowan; three sisters, Pamela A. Mullins of Mabank, Texas, Deborah L. Ivers of Lakeside, California, Krista S. Conley-Diede of Seven Points, Texas; one brother, Randall R. Conley of El Cajon, California; two half-brothers, Henry Conley and Billy J. Conley of Ashland, Kentucky. He was preceded in death by his mother, Joyce A. Conley Davis and his father, James E. Conley.