Lt. Col. (Ret.) Ronald A. Venturini, a longtime Grand Island resident, entered into rest April 1, 2016, at the age of 78.
Ron always knew what he wanted to do from early on, and that was so obvious to everyone that he was around. The wooden model planes that he put together and collected were evidence of his passion for flying at an early age.
After attending high school in Boonton, New Jersey, where he was class president, he then went on to graduate from Gettysburg College. While there, he eagerly joined the ROTC Program, which began his career in the Air Force as a second lieutenant stationed at Otis Air Force Base in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. During that time he married his high school sweetheart, Marilyn Mapoles (deceased), and went on to eventually have two daughters, Amy and Alissa.
He had a celebrated flying career for 21 years in the USAF, which included serving a tour in the USA's conflict in Vietnam where he flew the F-105 "Thunderchief" from Thakli Air Base. He flew 100 missions over there, mostly over North Vietnam's Hanoi, where he had to travel down what they call "Thud Ridge," an area where the enemy was heavily fortified and where the enemy waited for the daily missions of "Thuds" coming in to bomb Hanoi. He survived this assignment when more than half of his comrades in his original squadron did not. He served several more tours throughout his career instructing numerous pilots and accumulating numerous medals and awards including six distinguished flying crosses, a Meritorious Service Medal, an Air Medal with 13 Oak Leaf Clusters, an Air Force Commendation Medal, a Combat Readiness Medal, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Air Force Presidential Unit Citation, to name only a few.
After his time in the military, he retired and opened a small soft ice cream business on Grand Island called the Whippy Dip. He had fond memories of these days, but this seemed to be only a stepping stone while he gathered his energy to embark on his second passion in life next to flying: golf!
Ron began his second career at River Oaks Golf Course as the head professional. It became his second home and his second family. For years he mentored the young and old, teaching amateur and tenured golfers. He had patience that was unmatched by many. He made many friends and watched as his young apprentices went on to continue their dream of golf. He especially enjoyed Friday nights when everyone gathered for live music and fish fries. His golf career continued on as he became the Pro at Beaver Island State Park, and finally he ended his golf career at Glen Oaks Golf Course. Even in retirement he could not sit still. Every summer he worked teaching enthusiastic young golfers during a six-week golf clinic.
Ron never forgot any of his friends. He religiously attended his high school class reunions and college reunions, also his Vietnam "River Rats" conventions. No matter where they were held, he wanted to be there. He would also attend many golf show events where he would find all kinds of what he would call "gizmos" to bring back to his pro shop.
If a person were to describe Ronald A. Venturini, they would say he was a true patriot, loyal friend, a wonderful father, always generous, always a true teacher whether in life lessons, golf or aviation, always prepared for any situation, a very positive person, loved by so many and a man of genuine character.
He was the loving father of Amy E. and Alissa M. Venturini; grandfather of Quin Student; brother of Donald E. (Sharon) Venturini, Barbara A. (Matt) DiTeresa and Joel W. (Kim) Venturini; loved by Marilyn and Danny Kwiatkowski; son of the late Anthony and Josephine Venturini. Friends may call Friday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Kaiser Funeral Home, 1950 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. Stephen R.C. Church. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Pfc. Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 9249, 2121 Grand Island Blvd. on Grand Island. Interment will be in Arlington National Cemetery.