The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


June 25, 2013

A Don McCormack column: 'I've been given a gift'

One month ago tomorrow, Ron Cramer lay down dead on an Ashtabula street. Now, he vows to live each and every day to its fullest


Saving a life

With Dr. Agiannatassio hard at work, EMT personnel arrived on the scene.

“They rushed me to Ashtabula County Medical Center, where my heart was going absolutely crazy!” Ron said. “It was going completely irregular. I remember being at ACMC in the emergency room. When they shocked me and brought it back to normal, they put me on a helicopter and flew me to Cleveland Clinic, where they put a stint into one of my arteries.”

But as is usually the case with any story, and most certainly when a saga such as this plays out, there are several more layers to it.

The EMT administered a defibrillator on the way to the hospital and, well, what happened next is better left to Ron himself to explain.

“I immediately sat straight up and then started laughing,” he said. “The EMTs said they’ve never seen anything like it.”

Brought back from the brink, Ron’s trademark sense of humor didn’t stop there, either.

“When they loaded me onto the helicopter to fly me to the Cleveland Clinic, I asked what the in-flight movie was,” he said through another laugh.

Settling in

Ron admits he’s amazed at just how quickly his life returned to a sense of normalcy, or at least some semblance of it, anyway.

“Three and a half days after I entered the Cleveland Clinic, I’m out of the hospital and walking around with a wearable defibrillator,” he said. “It’s certainly not convenient... it weighs 5 to 6 pounds and, yeah, it’s a bit of a burden, but I really don’t mind.

“It sure beats the alternative!”

One beloved guy

Ron Cramer could run for mayor in Jefferson. Known as a big man with a big heart, he retired three years ago after 35 years as a teacher in the Jefferson district, spent mostly in the sixth grade.

His three and a half decades spent interacting and teaching young people in the community, on top of his dedicated work within the church, where his wife, Pat, has been administrative assistant since December 1993, have pretty much made Ron Cramer The Man About Town.

Then, there’s their family.

Ron and Pat have raised two sons.

Matt, a 1998 Jefferson graduate and a Liberty University graduate, and his wife, Alvina, have a 25-month-old son, Kingsley. They live in Morovia, Liberia, where Matt is the country’s director for Orphan Relief and Rescue.

James, a 2000 Jefferson graduate and a Kent State graduate, and his wife, Becca, live in Kinshasa, which is the largest city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he is teaching English.

In other words, the Cramer family has been — and continues — to be caring, giving people.

“It’s a good life,” Ron said. “God has blessed me in so many ways, I can’t even begin to count them.”

He does, though, know where to start.

“My wife is such a blessing,” he said.

The couple met in high school at Wheatfield Senior High School in Niagara, N.Y., where they were both members of the Class of 1971.

Not surprising to anyone who knows the couple, Ron knows all the details of their first date.

“Our first date was on April 17, 1981!” he said. “We went to see a movie, Cold Turkey, starring Dick Van Dyke and Hope Lange.”

After high school, Ron went on to study Christian ministries at Malone University. Pat moved on to Niagara County Community College, where she studied secretarial science.

The rest is history... ongoing history, thankfully.

The Cramers will celebrate 39 years of marriage on July 27 — two months to the day Ron’s life ended... and restarted.

“Pat keeps me on the straight and, mostly, narrow,” Ron says, breaking into his trademark boisterous laugh.

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