Tribute to Minister Ronnie Lee Hill: Master Chef and so Much More

Minister Ron Hill and Dr. J in a photo taken in Columbus, OH.

Minister Ron Hill and Dr. J in a photo taken in Columbus, OH.

Without question, there are times when words seem inadequate to express the depths of sorrow and sense of loss that come with the passing of someone who is close to us. Although the passing of our beloved Minister Ronnie Lee Hill deeply saddens us, we are comforted by the Word of God which reveals so clearly the hope of Christ’s return and the reminder that as believers, we should not sorrow as those who have no hope. We also receive strength and encouragement, as we recall special times that we have shared with our beloved brother and friend.

In reflecting upon the life of Minister Ron Hill, my mind is flooded with warm memories of a passionate minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, devoted husband, loving father, Master Chef, and so much more. Three special encounters with Ron stand out, however, for me.

My friendship with Ron and his wife Renee goes back to the 1ate 1970s when we first met. I had the privilege of performing the marriage ceremony for Ron and Renee in Bloomington, IN, Renee’s hometown and the place where I was enrolled in graduate school at Indiana University.

Our paths diverged and for a number of years we lost contact, but my wife Brenda was led to contact Renee when we were living in Columbus, OH. The Hills came to visit and eventually moved to the Columbus area where we both served in ministry at Equip U Ministries. During this time when I was serving as Professor of English at Otterbein University, I participated in a summer program for local high school students, and I invited Ron to be a guest speaker. He talked with the students about his career as a chef, demonstrating his culinary skills by preparing Caesar salad for the group and explaining the origin of the celebrated salad.

At that time he also talked about the various kinds of chefs, ranging from short order cooks to Executive Chefs. He went on to explain that a Master Chef was not only certified but also qualified to teach culinary arts. I later commented that Ron, indeed, was a Master Chef with a passion to teach not only culinary skills and practices, but he loved to teach the Word of God, as a faithful minister whose life had impacted countless believers across the nation.

One of my most vivid recollections of an encounter with Ron Hill occurred in 1980 when he was coordinator of Food Services at Camp Gunnison, Biblical research training facility outside Denver, CO. I was serving as an adjunct instructor, assisting with a Hebrew class. While there, Ron described a breathtakingly beautiful experience, as he observed the sunrise while sitting on top of a water tower on the grounds of the facility. He invited me to join him the next day, as we climbed the water tower in the early morning darkness and waited. The first rays of the new day illuminated the landscape of the Rocky Mountain in the foreground. The sun rose behind us with its golden rays flooding the snow-covered mountains with a deep purple hue that lightened with the rising sun. As I looked upon this indescribably beautiful sunrise, I understood more clearly the lyrics from “America, the Beautiful,” with its reference to “. . . purple mountain majesty.”  That unforgettable experience was one of those “golden moments” that took my breath away, becoming the inspiration for this poem which has become even more meaningful in light of Ron’s passing:

purple-mountain-majestySunrise

The sun also arises, and the sun goes down,

and hastens to the place where it arose.

Ecclesiastes 1:5

Today I beheld the beauty

of the dawning of the day,

the purple mountain majesty

crowned with mounds of sifted snow

displayed against the molten sky.

I saw no veil, no morning mist.

The sun’s purest rays revealed

mountains of uncut amethyst,

ignited in dawn’s afterglow,

lingering as a fading flame.

Fleeting embers are man’s reward,

tokens of passing pleasures till

we all are gathered with our Lord,

to see Him face to face and know

the sun shall rise to set no more.

We are strengthened and encouraged by the life of that Minster Ron Hill lived and the legacy that he leaves behind.

Many times during painful and perplexing experiences, I think of the lyrics to a song by Babbie Mason, and they express my sentiments during those difficult times. May all those who have experienced the loss of a friend or family member, such as Minister Hill, be fortified and comforted by the words of “Trust His Heart,” a song popularized by Babbie Mason, a contemporary Christian artist:

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4 Responses to “Tribute to Minister Ronnie Lee Hill: Master Chef and so Much More”

  1. Melissa Says:

    Words so beautifully put daddy. Thank you for sharing this in celebration of his life.

  2. John Lynn Says:

    Bless you, Lonnell. Someone sent me your tribute to Ron, who I remember from my time working with him and Renee at Emporia. Looking forward to seeing him again! I love you. John Lynn (jal@tltf.org)

    • Dr. J Says:

      Hey there, John,

      Thanks for the comment. How reassuring to know that we shall see Ron and those fellow believers who have fallen asleep in Christ… “soon and very soon.”

      Blessings always,

      Lonnell

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