Ronald A. Rendina, 90, passed away peacefully at his Park Ridge home on October 9th. Ron was born in Chicago, and was raised on the city’s west side. He attended Austin High School where he played football, and where he met his wife, Norma. He enlisted in the Navy shortly after he graduated. After he and Norma were married, they moved to Rhode Island, where he was stationed and where their eldest child, Christine, was born. They also spent two idyllic years on the naval base on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. After the Bahamas, he moved with Norma back to the Chicago area. They lived on the northwest side of the city, where their son Dean was born, followed three years later by their youngest daughter, Carla. In 1974 they moved from Edison Park to their home in Park Ridge, where he lived for the rest of his life.
He worked nearly all his life. As a child, he sold newspapers during World War II, and worked as a bellhop at the Central Plaza Hotel during his teen years. After he returned from his naval service, he began a career in real estate, working first at the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, and then in the real estate departments of a variety of retail grocery chains culminating at Dominick’s Finer Foods. Upon his retirement, he developed and invested in commercial properties and maintained those investments into his 90th year. He also volunteered his time at the local schools for many years, working as a greeter at Field Elementary school in Park Ridge and in the wood shop at Emerson Middle School in Niles. Throughout his 47 years living in Park Ridge, he was the neighborhood watchdog for his little corner of the world, always on the lookout for lawbreakers, errant city workers and code violations. He was a vocal citizen and advocated for responsible government often over the years, never afraid to fight city hall if he felt strongly about something, which he often did.
He treasured his home and stayed in it long past the time when many others would have downsized. He built a woodworking shop above his garage and turned out many projects for his home and family. He and Norma enjoyed close relationships with their neighbors and friends and many nights were spent with them under the grapevine pergola on their patio drinking wine and discussing politics and laughing. In his middle-age years, he fulfilled a dream and bought a 43-foot sailboat which he docked at Burnham Harbor and spent many hours captaining around Lake Michigan. He enjoyed cooking and working on his genealogy, and he loved to drive his red car around town and beyond. The most important thing in his life was his family. He especially found great joy watching proudly over the lives of his grandchildren, Christian, Marisa and Sara. He spoke to them about science and history and politics, and taught them to love life, Italian-style. They adored him in return, and he constantly amused them with his antics and idiosyncrasies. He lived life on his own terms until the very end, and leaves behind a trail of unforgettable stories, wise words and laughter.
Visitation Sunday, October 17, 2-5 p.m. at Ryan-Parke Funeral Home, 120 S. Northwest Hwy, Park Ridge. Private burial at Town of Maine Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations in his honor may be made to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Ave, Montgomery, AL 36104 or online at splcenter.org.