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11
January

Ron Oswald

Rhody Family Funeral Home

Ronald Lyon was born at home, on the family farm in Elderslie Township, on Wednesday, November 30, 1932. He was welcomed by his proud parents William Patterson and Lena Marguerite (Grant) Oswald and older brother John (1930). The Oswald family operated their mixed farm on Concession 7, where their family was made complete with the arrival of Robert “Bob” in 1936. The boys attended S.S. #7 Elderslie and kept busy throughout their childhood with everything life on the farm had to offer.

From an early age, Ron took a liking to sports, playing hockey and baseball whenever he could. Given the times and their proximity to town, baseball was more accessible to Ron, and it should be no surprise that he excelled. Many stories were told of the teams that he played on in Dobbinton through the 1950’s and 60’s and later in Chesley and Allenford. The Dobbinton squad in 1965 won the Intermediate D Ontario Championship. Several pictures from the 60’s attest to the core group of ball players that formed the heart of the team each year. In later years Ron continued in a coach and manager role but still did get on the playing field if the team was short players for a particular game. He must have held the distinguished role of beer manager! 🙂 based on the number of empties Peter remembers helping return after the season.

Ron attended Chesley District High School where a young woman two years his junior caught his eye. Her name was Margaret “Hope” Blohm. The two soon became high school sweethearts, and they never looked back. Following high school, Ron returned to the family farm where he worked side-by-side with his father. Hope attended nursing school in Guelph, but their long-distance relationship never wavered. The young couple were wed on Saturday, October 22, 1955, at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Chesley. Their reception followed at St. John’s United Church, as Ron joked that they had the better cooks! Lol! Ron and Hope soon called the Oswald homestead home and settled into their marriage.

The Oswald family began to grow in 1961 with the arrival of Peter before their family was made complete with Mary’s birth in 1964. Ron was an extremely proud father and enjoyed spending quality time with the kids around the farm. The family farm continued to grow as Ron worked hard to make a name for himself within the beef industry. His hard work and determination allowed Ron to grow the family farm into a successful beef stocker and feedlot enterprise on 450 acres. Ron’s desire to give back led him to become active with the Bruce County Cattlemen’s Association and he was chosen as their representative for the Provincial Association. At the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association, he eventually became president in 1976. This provided Ron with an opportunity to experience the work of the Cattlemen Association at a national level as well.

About this same time, he was named to the Advisory Committee of the Farm Credit Corporation to provide counsel to the Federal Minister of Agriculture. He served on that Committee until 1987 – the last 7 years as Chair and spokesperson. Thankfully, Ron had great support at home, with Hope, Peter, Mary and a variety of neighbours helping him with the day-to-day operations on the farm. In 1984, Ron was elected president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association for a 2-year term, a tremendous honour. With this role, Ron travelled extensively spending 100 – 120 days per year away from home concentrating on advancing the cattle industry within Canada and abroad. He treasured this opportunity and met countless amazing people along the way, holding the position of president until 1986. During this time, the farm was sold in May, 1985 and Ron retired from life on the farm together with Hope and built their retirement home in Chesley on Fairview Drive. Although retired from farming, Ron spent 9 years from 1988 – 1997 working for the Ontario Rent Review Board, based out of London, as a case advisory and judge.

It should be no surprise that politics also ran strong within the Oswald family. In fact, Ron’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all were active in municipal politics. Ron was initially elected to Elderslie Township Council in 1964. Other than a 10-year hiatus, during his time with the provincial and national Cattlemen’s Association Ron remained active in local politics for over 40 years. In 1984, Ron ran in the Federal election representing the Liberal Party of Canada. Although unsuccessful, the experience was very beneficial and led Ron back to governing at a municipal level. He was elected as Chesley Town councillor in 1994, before being acclaimed as mayor of Chesley in November of 1997.

It was during this time that municipal amalgamation occurred, and Ron rose to the challenge of leading the charge in bringing the communities of Chesley, Paisley, Tara, Elderslie, and Arran together. In a matter of two days, Ron went from being the last mayor of the Town of Chesley, to becoming the first mayor of the Municipality of Arran Elderslie on January 1, 1999. Ron held the position of mayor until 2010 when he retired from politics. He had always dreamed of ending his political career as warden of Bruce County, and following in the footsteps of his father William Oswald, who was Bruce County warden in 1954 and his grandfather John Oswald who was a member of Bruce County Council in 1920. Ron made it a reality and retired after his one-year term as warden. In recognition of Ron’s many years of public service, the newly erected Chesley Main Street Bridge was officially opened and renamed Oswald Bridge in 2020. An amazing honour, for an amazing man!

Ron’s community service and involvement did not end there. He was the past Master of the Forest Masonic Lodge, a member of the Chesley Hospital Foundation Board, a Director with Northern Credit Union and a member of the Grant Review Team for the Trillium Foundation. Locally, he was active in the Chesley Lawn Bowling and Curling Clubs. While not a member of the Chesley Rotary Club, the Club did bestow upon him the Paul Harris Fellowship as recognition for his community involvement. Ron and Hope were active members of St. John’s United Church, and the Eastern Star (in which he received a Life Membership). He was also a part of the Centennial celebrations in Chesley and a Homecoming or two through the years. All these accomplishments were but the tip of the iceberg. Simply put, Ron’s purpose in life was to bring people together and serve others, something he excelled at.

Ron loved his family dearly and they supported him right back. Hope was his rock, and #1 fan, always at his side when he needed her. They did everything together and complimented each other well. If Ron needed help, Hope was there, and I am told she sold her fair share of tickets through the years. All joking aside, if you saw Ron, Hope was never far away. Peter and Mary were Ron’s pride and joy. As youngsters, Ron would treat them to a treat when in town on business. He was there to love and support them, always looking out for their best interests. They were also a big reason Ron was able to do so much in the community as his support at home was always there.

When grandchildren came along that was the icing on the cake. Ron loved spending quality time with all of them and spoiled them on occasion. As a small family, everyone had a special place in his heart including his nephews and niece (Bob’s children), Jim, Susan, and Joe Oswald. Ron was also very close with his first cousin John Green. In fact, they were much more like brothers than cousins, and Ron treasured any time spent with John, his wife Barb and their daughters Barbara Jo and Robyn. Family vacations were always a highlight for Ron. Although there were too many to count, the trips to Florida (both flying and driving) and their adventure across Canada were amazing and stand out. Most vacations included visiting friends and family along the way and Ron truly treasured this time together.

In January of 2013, Ron’s world was turned upside down when Hope passed away suddenly. His rock, companion and best friend was no longer at his side. Although extremely difficult, the love and support given by him through the years was paid back by family and friends alike. It was not easy, but in time Ron returned to a more regular routine whereby there were few days that you wouldn’t run into him at Country Squire catching up on local gossip (sorry Terry! :)) or visiting with locals at the post office or grocery store. Back at home, Ron enjoyed reading the local newspapers as well as the Toronto Star whereby he could keep up with the local, national and international news. Watching sports also proved to be a favourite pastime for Ron as there were few nights his television was not turned into a Toronto Maple Leaf broadcast.

Ron was a loving, caring man who took great pride in listening to others. He would gather the opinions of others, find common ground, and bring people together. He was progressive, always looking for ways to better himself and his skills, so whereby he could help more people. We were all blessed to know Ron Oswald and should be very thankful for his tireless dedication and commitment to our community. He was loved and will be dearly missed!

Ronald passed away suddenly at The Village Retirement Community, Hanover, on Thursday, January 11, 2024, in his 92nd year.

Loving father of Peter and his wife Lorna of Dundas and Mary and her husband Grant Swartz of Chatsworth. Cherished grandfather of Jaunna (Paul) Giannotti, Mark (Samantha) Oswald, Tyler (Linda) Oswald, Brady (Caterina) Swartz, Ryan (Sacha) Swartz, and Jennifer (Ryan) Peel and great-grandfather of Carter, Ellison, Henry, Jake, Paisley and Asher. Ron will be dearly missed by his brother Bob (Nancy) Oswald of Tecumseh. He was predeceased by his wife Hope (2013), brother John and his wife Elizabeth, and his parents William and Lena (Grant) Oswald.

A memorial service honouring Ron’s life will be held at the Chesley Community Centre on Sunday, February 25, 2024, at 1:30 p.m. with a celebration of his life to follow from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. Spring inurnment in Chesley Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Chesley Hospital Foundation or Heart & Stroke Foundation would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.

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