Ronald Lewis Estes went home to be with his Lord on March 18, 2020, at the age of 85, following complications from a stroke. He was preceded in death by his wife of 55 years, Rowena Sue (Hodge) Estes (1939-2015) and son Michael Edward Estes (1971-2014). He is survived by siblings Hazel Estes of Kanorado, KS, Stan (Bev) Estes of Scandia, KS, Arlene (d. Tom) Stephenson of Cross Plains, TX, Bryan (d. Kitty) of Jacksonville, FL, sons Larry (Julie) Estes of Carlisle, PA, Tim (Lori) Estes of Castle Rock, CO, and his “favorite daughter”, Terri (Chris) Brady of Cary, NC as well as 12 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
Ron, “Ronnie,” “Dad”, “Pop Pop,” was the first-born to his parents, Raymond Estes (1902-1987) originally of Gallatin, MO and C. Fern Estes, originally of Modoc, KS (1916-2016) in their home in the rural outskirts of Tribune, KS, of Greeley County. In 1941, the family moved to the farm, “Peaceful Valley,” off exit 1 of I-70 in Kanorado, KS, which remained in the family until his mother’s death in 2016.
His brilliance was often hidden by his quiet demeanor, but the mental giant would sometimes let his intelligence be shown. After beginning in a rural one-room-schoolhouse in the early 1940’s, he was promoted from 3rd to 5th grade in 1944, skipping 4th grade altogether. In 1952, he graduated from Kanorado (KS) High School, where he had football, basketball and baseball experience, though he often touted that he weighed 98 pounds soaking wet at the time. The first college graduate in his family lineage, he began at Ft. Hays State University in fall of 1952, and graduated from Kansas State University in May of 1957 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He went on to obtain his Professional Engineering License in Pennsylvania in 1969 and in Colorado in 1993, and then a Master Electrician Certification in Colorado in 1994.
Career and marriage
After college, he immediately began his engineering career at Pittsburgh Plate Glass (PPG) in Crystal City, MO, but was sidetracked by being drafted into the US Army, in December of 1957. His two-year Army service began in Camp Carson, Colorado Springs, CO, but quickly moved to Red Stone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL, where he was assigned a cute civilian secretary, Rowena Sue Hodge (of Talladega, AL), who feigned “car problems,” to get his attention one day after work. Sue and Ron were married April 3, 1960, shortly after Ron was reinstated as an electrical engineer in the management path at PPG back in Crystal City, MO. From Crystal City, MO to Pittsburgh, PA to Carlisle, PA, Ron transferred with PPG, picking up several patents in glass-making along the way. Retiring from PPG in 1990, with a now empty Pennsylvania nest, Ron and Sue moved back west to their dream area of Ft. Collins, CO, where Ron started his own company called EWorks and did contract Professional Engineering work in the area, including work for Merit Electric. After his bride’s death in 2015, Ron relocated to Aurora, CO and in 2019, Castle Rock, CO.
As a father, he will be remembered as a devoted Moreland Elementary School PTA President, a dedicated Teener League baseball coach for his boys and an active Boy Scouts of America Scout Master in Carlisle, PA – including receiving the prestigious BSA Silver Beaver award for his service. He claimed he gave all of his musical ability to his children and is why he had none left, but he was a continual support for their music activities, including a stint as president of the Carlisle High School Band Boosters.
It was never clear whether he really preferred burned cookies, extra brown bananas or overdone meat, but he always selflessly took the less desirable, never wasting and always grateful to the chef. Common courtesy was important to him, and he would never leave a grocery cart in a parking lot, causing work or harm for someone else – a metaphor for his life. He will be remembered for quotes like, “Do your best; angels can do no more;” “You wouldn’t care what people thought of you if you realized how rarely they do;” “People don’t care how much you know till they know how much you care;” And “Let’s go to bed, so these nice people can go home,” (how he seemed to quickly bring his wife’s social events at home to an end.) His attitude was always positive, and when asked how he was, he would cheerily reply, “Upright and taking nourishment!”
Church and philanthropy
Faith was an important part of his life, as he led in such a way as to, “Preach Christ; and if you must, use words.” He was actively involved in Second Presbyterian Church in Carlisle, PA; Bible Study Fellowship and First Presbyterian Church in Ft. Collins, CO; and Eagle Bend Church in Aurora, CO. Ron was a regular blood donor for decades, and as a result is likely responsible for the saving of many lives.
The “Ol’ Farmer” – as he often referred to himself, despite his degrees and titles – could leave his Kansas childhood farm, but the farm could never leave him. He often commented on the height of the corn or the space between rows of beans when driving across the country. Sunsets were his favorite. In his final days on this earth, he gave instructions regarding the planting of a garden that spring – a reminder that life does go on.
A Celebration of Life Service for Ron will be held on July 1, 2022 at 2:00 PM MT at Koons-Russell Funeral Home in Goodland. Those who are unable to attend can watch on Facebook Live, by following the Koons-Russell Funeral Home page on Facebook.
In lieu of flowers, consider donating to Second Presbyterian Church in Carlisle, PA, donating blood or having a blood drive in his memory at your local Red Cross or Vitalant location.