Ron Rankin, 1938-2021

Ron Rankin enjoying the deck on his South Forty home  |  photo by neighbor Miek Boltjes  |  post by Guy Biederman

Ron Rankin, a resident of South Forty Pier for over 40 years, recently passed away. Ron was a true gentleman, a friendly neighbor, and a very generous man. His global philanthropy included support for better wages and working conditions for the poorest of people and promoted holistic land management practices around the world. His global magnanimity was matched and experienced in myriad neighborly ways here on the dock.

Born in Los Angeles, with undergraduate and graduate degrees from Stanford, Ron was one of the original residents on South Forty Pier, and his connections were varied and ran deep. Dancer Styles recalled how Ron was one of the first neighbors to allow anchor-outs, including Dancer as a young boy on his way to school with his father English Alan, to tie their skiffs to his float and recharge their batteries.

As many of us might agree, we came to the waterfront for the beauty and stayed for the community. When Jack Sherwood and Flo Hoylman first arrived, they met Ron over dinner at Henry and Renee Baer’s house; Henry and Renee were Ron’s beloved next-door neighbors. “Flo and I had moved in just a couple of weeks earlier,” said Jack, “and we were living in a total construction zone when we first met Ron.  His response was to offer us his houseboat for the two weeks he had planned to be out of town. His last words were:  ‘By the way, what’s your last name’?”

This was Ron. Acts of kindness large and small, global and local. He was a man of comfortable routine. We often met him on the dock in the morning as we walked to the parking lot, and Ron, returning from his morning walk, would smile and ask, “Off to work?” Later in the afternoon I would pass him again and he’d smile and say, “Mail is here.”  Neatly dressed in khakis, sweater, and polo shirt, Ron was a steady, gracious presence in our community. Diana Cohn remembers how Ron was always present at dock parties and gatherings, and graciously accepted dinner invitations.

And of course, Ron always generously shared J. Lohr wine.

When Phyllis and I bought our houseboat on South Forty, after renting for three years, Ron was genuinely happy for us and gave us his congratulations.

His nature and welcoming ways reflected who he was as a person, as a neighbor, and as a friend. Ron’s legacy as a world citizen was matched by his legacy as a member of the houseboat community. His generous spirit is part of the fabric of South Forty, a braid in the line that moors us together as a community that he cherished. Ron will be missed, honored, and remembered as a man who supported and gave to those in need—be they farmers in Africa, students in Cambodia, or neighbors who had the good fortune to land in a floating home community that Ron cherished, and of which he will forever be part.