Boats 08

Ronald C. Machen Sr.

July 21, 1930 ~ February 21, 2022 (age 91)

Obituary

It is with extreme sorrow that we announce the passing of the beloved patriarch of our family, Ronald C. Machen Sr., 91.  He was the third son of Carolyn (Carrie) Machen and Harold Porter Machen, and was born in Chicago, Illinois at Cook County Hospital on July 21, 1930.  He had two older brothers, Harold and Howard Machen. Ron lived a full and impactful life.  Words can’t fully capture his character or the manner in which he lived his life but those that come to mind are brilliant, strong, compassionate, authentic, courageous, dependable, caring, honest, loyal, humble, persistent and resilient.  

Ron graduated from Englewood High School in 1948 and loved to play all sports, but particularly football. After high school, he attended the University of Illinois where he was an outstanding student, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and a member of the football team.  He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry from Illinois in 1952. Ron was a lifelong learner and never succumbed to societal constraints or expectations about his abilities even though he grew up in the pre-civil rights era. Following graduation, he volunteered to serve his country during the Korean War and joined the U.S. Air Force.  He was the only black man in his unit before he was honorably discharged due to a previously unknown heart condition.  

It did not take long for Ron to return to one of his true passions in life --  learning and educating others.  He earned a Master of Science degree in analytical chemistry from The Ohio State University in 1963 and a PhD in analytical chemistry from Ohio State four years later. As a post doctorate student in chemistry, he was responsible for teaching undergraduate and graduate students. He then moved his family to Pennsylvania, where he worked for Sunoco Oil company.  However, his fondness for education and mentoring students was never far from his mind and he soon returned to higher education, securing a tenured position as a professor of chemistry at Delaware State University.  During this time as a professor, he often worked on special projects for NASA during summer breaks.  In 1978, he moved his family to Detroit, Michigan to become a chemist for Ford Motor Company. He worked at Ford until 1989 when he once again returned to Delaware State University as the Chair of the Chemistry Department.  During his career, Ron was a member of many professional organizations, including the American Chemical Society, where he served as Chairman, and the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, where he served as President. He published numerous scientific articles in peer reviewed journals and was a frequent speaker at science and technology conferences around the country. He truly loved learning and teaching about science and chemistry, in particular.  He had a profound impact on the lives of countless students, most of whom were minorities, who were interested in pursuing careers in the science and technology fields. 

Ron’s excitement for learning and teaching was only surpassed by his love for his family. He always put family first. He was a dedicated father, grandfather and husband who provided for and protected his family with fierce unwavering conviction.  He met Myrna Ferguson while he was in graduate school at Ohio State and they were married in 1962. From this union, which lasted over thirty years, two children, Margo and Ronald Jr., were born. Both Ron and Myrna prioritized their children’s education and rarely purchased expensive items or took vacations for themselves. Instead, they sent Margo and Ron Jr. to the best college prep schools in the state of Michigan -- the same schools where many of the top executives of Ford Motor Company and General Motors sent their children – which provided a strong educational foundation for their children’s professional careers. Ron did not exert pressure on his children to succeed, but instead instilled confidence in them that they could excel academically, athletically and socially with the best and the brightest of their peers. He taught and demonstrated to his children and later his grandchildren, how to treat everyone with respect, to be true to their word and to, most importantly, always give their best effort -- no matter how daunting the challenge. Ron provided his children with a loving, supportive environment that allowed his children to sometimes fail but never be defeated. 

Ron was an avid sports fan who believed in healthy living and daily exercise. In particular, he loved to run and swim.  A former lifeguard in college and graduate school, Ron would often go on long swims in the ocean or the lake, frequently passing the outer boundaries for swimming. More than a few times, irritated lifeguards would have to go out on jet skis to tell Ron to swim back to shore. When he lived in Detroit, he would drive downtown every Sunday morning to run around Belle Isle Park for hours. Ron loved to cook and would repeatedly offer visitors food and drink whenever they came to the house. In his view, it was a cardinal sin for anyone to leave his house hungry, which made his household a favorite location for friends to visit. He loved the outdoors and anything to do with water; he especially liked to canoe and sail. He didn’t believe in spending money on a mechanic to change the oil, replace the brakes or tune up the car engine when he could do all of this himself.  

A turning point in his life occurred when he met his beloved Ethel Lynch and they were subsequently married in 1997. They shared a unique and unbreakable bond. They were always together, even when performing mundane tasks such as going to the cleaners or the grocery store or to the doctor’s office. However, they most enjoyed taking long walks together, going to music festivals or movies and traveling out of state -- often times to spend quality time with their cherished grandchildren. 

For the last five years, Ron battled dementia as it slowly robbed him of his mobility, speech and cognition, but it could not steal his spirit.  He fought the disease with grace, bravery and strength. He repeatedly surpassed doctors’ expectations about his longevity.  As was the case for the last 25 years, Ethel was by his side each and every day devoted to taking the most amazing care of Ron.  The family also received assistance from some outstanding care givers during this period including, Mary Poomah, Hema Krishnaraj, Amy Wagreich, Charlene Thornton and Yvonne Hampton. 

Ron will always be remembered for his sharp mind, kind heart and passion for life. He had a unique ability to make everyone feel accepted, supported and special. He is now at peace joining his mother, father and two older brothers. He is survived by his wife, Ethel, his two children, Margo and Ronald Jr., his daughter-in-law Ayana and his three grandsons, Bijan, Jelani and Kadari.  He will be missed dearly.

“You never said I’m leaving, you never said goodbye.  You were gone before we knew it, and only God knew why.  A million times we needed you, a million times we cried. If love alone could have saved you, you never would have died. In life we loved you dearly, in death we love you still.  In our hearts you hold a place that no one could ever fill.  It broke our hearts to lose you, but you didn’t go alone.  For part of us went with you, the day God took you home.” Author Unknown.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Ronald C. Machen Sr., please visit our floral store.

 Service Program


Services

Visitation
Friday
March 4, 2022

11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Calvary Memorial Church
931 Lake St.
Oak Park, IL 60301

Funeral Service
Friday
March 4, 2022

12:00 PM
Calvary Memorial Church
931 Lake St.
Oak Park, IL 60301

Interment following funeral service
Friday
March 4, 2022

Forest Home Cemetery
863 Des Plaines Ave.
Park, IL 60130

Donations

The Ronald and Ethel Machen Endowed Scholarship Fund
Delaware State University - 1200 N. DuPont Highway, Dover DE 19901
Web: https://www.desu.edu/giving/give-now

The Ronald C. and Ethel Lynch Machen Endowed Scholarship Fund
University of Illinois Foundation - P.O. Box 734500, Chicago IL 60673-4500
Web: Https://diversity.uic.edu/donate/

The Mercy Home for Boys and Girls
Web: https://donate.mercyhome.org/page/11990/donate/1?locale=en-US

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