Transition: Ronald Dale Derge (Mar. 25, 1949-June 30, 2018)
Ronald Dale Derge of Little Rock, Ark. was born on March 25, 1949 in West Bend, Wisconsin to Melvin and Rosella (Engeleiter) Derge. He peacefully departed this life in Little Rock on Saturday, June 30th at age 69.
Ron spent his early life in the Hartford, Wisconsin area farmlands before his family moved to Hartford proper in 1961. He graduated from Hartford Union High School in 1967, an outstanding debater and president of his senior class.
In 1971, he graduated with honors from Carthage College with a BA in English. In college, spent a semester at sea with the World Campus Afloat and a semester in Germany.
Following graduation, Ron was an English professor at Edgewood College. When the wunderlust bug bit Ron, he moved to Eugene, Oregon.
Upon returning to Wisconsin, Ron joined Old World Wisconsin, an outdoor living history museum. Here he developed his carpentry and cabinetry skills, building historic replications for the vintage buildings. Ron moved to Blue Mounds, Wisconsin and established a cabinetry shop. He designed and built custom kitchens and home furnishings. Ron was also passionate about buying old homes and restoring them to their original glory.
Ron prided himself on doing quality, historically accurate restorations and Mt. Horeb enjoys two of his major renovations; the conversion of the old Ace Hardware store into the Mustard Museum, and the facade of the Mt. Horeb Area Historical Museum, both projects set the bar for quality restoration in the downtown.
In 2005, the wanderlust bug returned, shortly after his youngest’s high school graduation, Ron dropped daughter Sara off at college and the next day drove to Eureka Springs, AR.
There Ron continued woodworking, rescuing and renovating old homes and became involved with Eureka arts, partnering in an art supply store and gallery with his wife.
He was known as Southwindcome, The Pepper Man, and Ron the Woodworker. He hated cold weather, okra, forsythia bushes, hashtags, and unnecessary noise. He loved his mom, his wife, his kids, family, pets, good books, peaceful solitude, public radio, and cooking.
He was a straight shooter, a realist, and he always gave honest reviews about the important things in life. He saw the value and potential in well-worn items, and he found beauty in the mundane. He surprised himself by enjoying morning glories almost as much as his vegetable gardens. Ron found joy each season in the feathered visitors that he made sure were well-fed. He was always willing to lend an ear or a favorite recipe.
On October 5, 2009 Ron was united in marriage with Raven (nee Natalie Hill) who survives him of the home. He is also survived by his mother Rosella of Whitewater, Wisconsin, three children, son Nathan (Theresa Kuehl) of Madison, Wisconsin, son Benjamin of West Allis, Wisconsin, daughter Sara (Al Wilson), granddaughter Evelynne Wilson of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, two siblings, Judith Pesetski (William) of Lubbock, Texas and John (Dr. Shirley Butler) of El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain and many beloved friends. He was preceded in death by his father Melvin Derge.
A memorial service will be held at the Crescent Hotel conservatory in Eureka Springs on Tuesday July 10th at 10:00am, located at 75 Prospect Avenue.
Interment will be at Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Hartford, Wisconsin.
Memorial donations may be sent to the ACLU and KUAR ualrpublicradio.org.
Ron possessed a quiet strength and an enduring spirit. He will be deeply missed by many.