Ronald Clare was born on Saturday, September 2, 1944 in Kincardine Township to Burton C. and Margaret “Elva” Jean (Horn) Hodgins. He was the third of six children: Betty Jean, Mary, Ron, Keith, Burt and Merv.
Ron was very proud of his Irish ancestry. His father, Burton Clare was born February 10, 1913 in Kincardine and his mother, Margaret Elva Jean Horn was born September 14, 1910 also in Kincardine. An unknown portion of Ron’s ancestry originated from Ireland and he chose to embrace his Irish heritage.
The Hodgins family farmed near Bervie and the children did not have far to go to school as it was located on their farm.
Ron began his fascination with forestry by making maple syrup in his father’s bush when he was 14 or 15. He used the neighbour’s horse “Old Ted” to help.
One night Ron and two of his brothers were leaving the bush to go home for supper. Ron was on old Ted with two – 1gallon cans of syrup hanging on the harness. The two brothers were riding young ponies. Declaring he could be home first, he laid the 12 gauge shotgun over Old Ted’s head and pulled the trigger. He won the bet.
At the tender age of 16, Ron purchased his first standing timber from a neighbour. Using horses to skid the logs and a farm tractor to load the logs, they were sold to the Spool & Bobbin plant in Walkerton. Rolling logs off a hay wagon first, then backing the pickup up to a standing tree in the yard, tying a rope around the log and the tree before driving forward, made short work of unloading.
At 20, he married and built a sawmill on the 9th of Kincardine. He started to farm, raising both pigs and beef cattle. The following year Deb was born, Rick came along two years later. Cynthia was added to the family in 1971.
At this point, Ron formed a partnership with Bert Stanborough and Rod Fritz – which ended when he started to work at the Nuclear Plant. In later years, both Bert and Rod worked for RKM Wood Products.
In 1969, all four brothers started to work at the new Nuclear Plant, but they all left the plant within 3 years.
In 1973, he along with Keith bought a small portable sawmill, first known as Hodgins Brothers. Merv joined in 1974 and the name changed to RKM Wood Products. In the early 1990’s Rick and Deb joined as junior partners. At its peak, RKM employed 180 people.
“Sammy Sawdust” or “Benny” as he was often referred to by close friends and colleagues was very business minded. Ron was exceptional at math, hardworking and wasn’t afraid to take risks, always willing to push the limits. To say Ron was a little “rammy” is probably an understatement. Merv would do a full body shiver when he knew Benny was at the wheel, as there were many equipment casualties over the years.
He often acted as an advisor, was willing to think outside the box and very often had an obscure approach that helped solve the problem. Over the years Ron nurtured and developed countless friendships, however he and Bert Stanborough had a particularly strong bond. Ron would admit that most of what he learnt in his life was self-taught with the guiding hands of his father and he used his strong work ethic to help stay ahead of the competition. He did not want to retire as he loved what he did so much that he kept involved in his family business right up until his death.
In his spare time, Ron enjoyed being involved with the Rotary Club in Paisley, Bruce County Heritage Association and the Paisley Royal Canadian Legion. Ron treasured his antiques, especially steam engines and older vehicles. He enjoyed listening and dancing to Country and Irish music. He also had a passion for reading, with Westerns being his favourite. If Louis L‘Amour wrote it there was a good chance Ron had read it. Ron was a man who enjoyed his food, particularly seafood. Apparently this fondness even evoked a few trips to the east coast over the years. Travelling was another of Ron’s passions. He has travelled throughout Canada and the US extensively. However, he would also admit that he had seen the world, with Ireland, Italy, Hawaii and Australia being some of his most memorable destinations.
As Ron aged his focus revolved more around his family. He loved his children dearly and was always willing to lend a listening ear and help out wherever he was needed. This also allowed him to create close bonds with his grandchildren and eventually great-grandchildren, who always lit up his world. His love was unconditional. Many stories were told of Ron playing (and beating I would add) cards with friends and family. His specialty was probably Crib, but he also enjoyed a good game of crokinole or euchre as well. His motto of “there is nothing we can’t do,” led Ron to experience parachuting at the age of 60, whereby he broke his ankle on a rough landing. Ron never found the time to try bungee jumping.
In December of 2016 Ron was diagnosed with cancer. Although devastating, he did not let this news dampen his spirits. Ron knew that every day was a blessing and he used his remaining days, enjoying life with friends and family.
Ron passed away on Thursday, January 4, 2018 on his own terms, surrounded by the love of his family. He was 73.
Loving companion and friend of Linda Simkins. Cherished father of Deb (Gerald) Thomas, Rick (Janice), all of Paisley and Cynthia (Rob) Koehler of Sauble Beach. Loving Pops to Ryan Thomas (Katie Stokes), Brent Hodgins (Jazmin Eckenswiller), Katrina Hodgins (Nikhil Mahajan), Taylor and Michaela Logan and Great Papa to Ethan, Autumn and Izabelle. Ron will be fondly remembered by his siblings Betty Jean White of Kincardine, Keith (Gladys) of Bruce Twp., Burt (Maria) of Kincardine Twp. and Merv (Janet) of Bruce Twp. and their families. He will be forever missed by his many friends and extended family.
Ron was predeceased by his parents Burton and Elva (Horn) Hodgins, sister Mary (Ken) Robinson, brother-in-law Robert White, sister-in-law Lynn Grimshaw and nephew Michael White.
Visitation will be held at Paisley Baptist Church (288 Church St., Paisley) on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 from 2 p.m. until the time of the memorial service at 3 p.m. At Ron’s request an “Irish Wake” will follow from 4 – 7 p.m. at the Paisley Community Centre.
Memorial donations to the Owen Sound Regional Hospital Foundation (Unit 6-1), who provided amazing care to Ron and family or Rotary Club of Paisley, of which Ron was a long-time member, would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.