Following a fearless battle with cancer, Ronald Michael Christian passed away on the evening of January 22nd, 2023, in Nashville, TN, at the age of 77. Ron was born on April 18th, 1945, 20 days prior to Germany’s unconditional surrender marking the end of World War II in Europe, to Lt. Harry Christian and Lena Christian (née Bozzo), in Oakland, CA. He was preceded in death by his beautiful sister, Diane, and is survived by two adored brothers, Terry and Dennis, and his wonderful sister-in-law, Gerilyn. Ron met the love of his life, Deborah (née Daniels), in 1970, married her in 1972, and remained by her side for 45 years until her passing in 2017, following her own arduous battle with cancer. He is survived by brothers-in-law Michael (Betsy), Chris (Patty) and sisters-in-law Carolyn (Kevin) and Judy (Chris). Both of his sons, Brian (Nashville, TN) and his family (April and Elijah) and Eric (Lusail, Qatar), were with Ron during his transition; they deeply mourn his passing but cherish all of their time with him.
Ron spent his early childhood in Point Richmond, CA before moving with his family to Bucks County, PA, in 1954, eventually settling in Yardley. A lifelong and passionate advocate of the combat sports boxing and wrestling, he excelled in boxing from a young age and would often cross the Delaware River to seek instruction and competition at gyms in Trenton in the early 1960s. A 1963 graduate of Pennsbury High School, he next headed for the wilds of central Pennsylvania’s Happy Valley, graduating from Pennsylvania State University in 1967 with a degree in business administration. While in State College, Ron fondly recalled late nights spent working at the Rathskeller, excelled as a member of the collegiate boxing team, and was a graduate of the US Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, winning the Chicago Tribune Award.
After graduation, Ron completed his Airborne training at Fort Benning, GA, artillery training at Fort Sill, OK, and Jungle Operations and Warfare training at Fort Sherman, Panama before heading overseas to the A Shau Valley in Vietnam to proudly serve his country as an officer with Tiger Force, an elite long-range reconnaissance patrol unit of the 1st/327th of the 101st Airborne Division, winning, among other medals, three Bronze Stars (one with Valor device) and the Air Medal with “V’ device. His experience in Vietnam had a profound impact on the rest of his life, and he enthusiastically reconnected with several of his fellow Tiger Force Screaming Eagles more than 50 years later at a reunion at Fort Campbell, KY in 2021.
Ron returned home from Vietnam in 1969 and, soon after meeting the gentle and kind nurse who would become his future bride, he embarked upon his chosen career path. He truly valued the relationships he formed and the friendships he forged throughout a successful 50-year career in the finance and banking industries, working as manager, director and executive for, among others, Provident National Bank, PSFS, Mellon PSFS, CLS Corporation, EDS, GHR and Metavante.
An enviably self-motivated individual with a tireless work ethic, Ron had a unique and natural ability to elevate his hobbies and passions into art and performance. He rediscovered his love for the written word in his 40s, first contributing articles to the County Press as a means to announce his sons’ teams’ athletic endeavors to the community at large and continued to write, to the tune of thousands of articles, for the County Press, the News of Delaware County, Main Line Times, and Main Line Life as a correspondent for many years. Though he wrote about a variety of subjects and sports, he particularly enjoyed extolling the virtues of folkstyle wrestling and the exploits of amateur and professional boxers across the Delaware Valley, especially the Drexel Hill Raiders Wrestling Club and the Upper Darby Boxing Club, two organizations he supported with passion and generosity throughout the years. He genuinely cared for the thousands of athletes he covered, wanted not just to see them succeed, but to help them in their journey, and the friendships he cultivated during this period endured throughout the rest of his life.
As Ron became increasingly involved in the local boxing scene in Delaware County and the Main Line on, he employed his expertise in the ring, first as ring announcer and referee of local Tough Guy competitions, then in those same roles on amateur and professional boxing cards across the Tri-State area. He later used his naturally deep and dulcet voice as a blow-by-blow analyst on television boxing broadcasts in Philadelphia, Atlantic City and New York, as well as on boxing radio shows in Philadelphia and New York. As was his way, Ron worked hard to improve his craft, was meticulous in his preparation, found joy and exhilaration in the performance of these roles, and prized the new memories and friendships made during these years as he aged into his 70s.
Ron-Ron, as he preferred to be called by his grandson, Elijah, became a grandfather in 2018. He was present for all of his grandson’s activities, from taking Eli to piano and boxing lessons to cheering him on from the sidelines of baseball and soccer games and wrestling practices. Their fondest memories together included numerous adventures traversing the great states of Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Florida, Louisiana and Tennessee. He leaves behind his inherited Bumpus family and “daughter and grandson he never knew he needed” but who burrowed into his heart and remained there until the day he died.
Ron became heavily involved in the sport of target shooting later in life and flexed his competitive muscles by traveling to firearms training and competitions in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Florida and Nevada, as well as teaching handgun safety courses at his local range. He was a remarkably dedicated, technically proficient, and fastidiously responsible gun owner and advocate who was always enthusiastically accessible to teach his friends and family the finer points of shooting.
A passionate and dedicated supporter of Penn State Wrestling, who, in his later years, would often venture back to State College to attend matches at Rec Hall or the Bryce Jordan Center, Ron was a member and supporter of both the Nittany Lion Wrestling and Penn State Wrestling Clubs. One month before Ron passed, despite being riddled with bone and lung cancer and in a significant amount of pain, he refused to miss seeing the Nittany Lions compete in the National Collegiate Wrestling Duals, and so his family loaded him up and drove him from Nashville to New Orleans for one last earthly adventure.
Ronald Christian was truly a gentleman and scholar. He was highly intelligent and accomplished in his chosen fields and was likewise a remarkably engaging man who lived his life with a natural grace, honesty, and charm. He was a beloved family man devoted to his wife, sons, and grandson, a proud and decorated veteran, a fierce and loyal friend to those fortunate to know him well, and a powerful source of vitality, light and joy.
We shall never look upon his like again.
There will be a Celebration of Ron’s Life at the Must Fight Boxing Club (formerly known as Upper Darby Boxing Club) at 7241 West Chester Pike (entrance to the gym is one block behind the Upper Darby Fire Company off of Merion Terrace) on Friday February 10th, starting at 1:30pm and culminating in a Final Ten-Count Ceremony at 3:30pm. Hors d'oeuvres and refreshments will be served. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Pennsylvania Golden Gloves at https://pagoldengloves.com/product/donate or to the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club at https://nittanylionwrestlingclub.com/registration to ensure their continued domination of the Iowa Hawkeyes.
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Pennsylvania Golden Gloves
Nittany Lion Wrestling Club