Opinion

Bainbridge’s loss of Ron Konzak runs deep | Sally Robison

The first time I met Ron Konzak was 20 years ago. The Chamber of Commerce sponsored a naval tour of the island. A tour boat providing dinner and a dance floor sailed through our bays. (It could have stayed at the dock the entire time because drinking, eating, dancing and having a fine time were the main attraction.)

We were leaving the public dock where Ron Konzak and his wife, Mickey Molnaire, waited at the gangplank, both wearing kilts. Ron played his bagpipe and – here memory fades – Mickey accompanied with some instrument.

I had never been greeted so originally, and I turned to the husband and said, “This island never disappoints.”

I could have said, “Ron never disappoints.”

One time I tried to pin him down by asking, “What are you?” I wanted to know his field probably to impress him with how much I knew.

I soon discovered that to categorize him was folly. His accomplishments, his ideas, and his harps… well, just about anything you might mention as a career, he has done. (Except medicine and law because I don’t think he was interested in those fields.)

You might say that originality was his goal in life – besides loving his wife and son.

Who else would write a book about noodles? Build a harp that the wind could play? Build an authentic Japanese bed and breakfast, a Buddhist temple? I could continue a longer list, but columns must be compact.

People knew him as that man who has ideas.

I was at a party where he was a magnet for conversation. He was not your ordinary guest.

His death affects us all.

This brings me to last weekend’s rummage sale. The proceeds were for Ron and Mickey’s benefit because Ron had cancer and they had exhausted his Medicare. The rummage sale’s other cause was the rehabilitation of the Boy Scout historic home. Jerry and Judy Elfendahl sponsored the event.

Mickey’s writing group volunteered to oversee a table selling works of Bainbridge artists. The writers managed to find a CD that featured the singing of Ron and Mickey. He had a rich baritone while she has a delicate soprano.

It is a wonderful CD with some of their songs and folk music that they have collected from their travels.

Standing there that cool morning watching the crowds gather in the strawberry hut behind the Filipino-American Center, I suddenly thought of the Rotary Auction coming up.

“This is probably the Rotary warm-up,” I said, and after I explained what I had said, my cohorts understood.

Both events are community-based. Bainbridge Islanders donated their treasures. They volunteered their time and, finally, they bought the donations.

The money they generated was destined for worthy causes: to help a family that had given so much to his home, and to refurbish a landmark.

Returning home, I found through the Web the mission of the Rotary and discovered that my hypothesis – that our rummage sale and the Rotary sale were similar – was true.

This is the Rotary statement: “Rotary prescribes humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations and helps build goodwill and peace in the world.”

Couldn’t that same mission statement also describe Ron?

I know so.

Sally Robison is a Winslow artist and the author of “The Permanent Guest’s

Guide to Bainbridge Island.”

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