TALENT — Ron Ridgway, named Citizen of the Year Wednesday, is described as a man who always gives of his time, abilities and assets and works quietly behind the scenes. He was co-owner of Tark's Market until Ray's Food Place purchased the store in September.
"The biggest thing about Ron, he just couldn't say no," said Cheri Browne, who served on the Talent Chamber of Commerce board of directors with him. "He is very, very generous."
"There's many other things he's done for people that we will never know about," said Talent Urban Renewal Agency Executive Director Marla Cates.
"He's been involved in every pancake breakfast, bingo night and spaghetti dinner," said Sherman Lamb, who served on both the chamber and urban renewal boards.
Cynthia Care, chairwoman of the Together for Talent Community, said she thinks of Ridgway as "Father Talent" for his nurturing and giving character.
Mayor Bill Cecil announced Ridgway's selection at the Community Center during an event to honor volunteers. Cecil inaugurated the award last year. Ridgway was unable to attend because of a previous commitment.
Family upbringing probably had much to do with Ridgway's ceaseless service.
"I was raised, 'If you can do it, do it,' " said Ridgway.
Ridgway's service on the urban renewal board began in 1998, and he chaired the group much of the time. He's now off the board because membership requires either residing or owning a business in town.
Besides serving on boards, Ridgway aided young people in many groups, including the Boys & Girls Club of Talent, the elementary and middle schools, Little League and soccer clubs.
In addition, Tark's parking lot was used during many community events, including the annual Harvest Festival.
"That was fun hosting bands on the parking lot," said Ridgway, recalling Friday evening art walks.
Ridgway's financial acumen and strategic thinking were assets for urban renewal, said Cates.
"He had a tremendous amount of knowledge about everything going on in Talent," said Cates.
Lamb said Ridgway often helped other board members arrive at decisions.
"He's got a very sort of calm, deliberative manner. He thinks things through," said Lamb. "But he'd show us how to make really good decisions."
Ridgway's character influenced more than organizations and businesses.
"He was also my mentor, whether he knew it or not," said Browne. He gave good advice, she said, and kept their conversations to himself.
"I didn't go out to do that," said Ridgway, when told of Browne's comments. "As a business person, I was involved with a lot in the town. I considered we were helping each other as business people."
A letter nominating Ridgway said he has "a vision" for Talent. But he wasn't one to draw attention to his views.
"He was just kind of quiet and would move along and do all these things behind the scenes," said Sue, his former wife and business partner in Tark's. "He was active on everything."
Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at email@example.com.