Ronald Erwin Persche, 80, of North Freedom, passed away on the bright morning of Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, with the frost-coated oaks of his beloved Freedom Woods waving their branches in a strong west wind beneath wild fleeting clouds, he climbed on his tractor and rode it out of this world.
Ronald was born Aug. 1, 1938, in Chicago, Illinois, to Erwin and Catherine “Babe” (nee Boerman) Persche. During childhood, Ron lived with his parents in La Grange, Illinois, where he graduated from Lyons Township High School in 1956. Ron then attended Lyons Township Junior College from 1956-1958 where he pursued his love of baseball by playing on their team. Ron spent many summers of his youth working construction and brick laying jobs with his father, who was a mason. Ron attended Illinois State University from 1958-1961 where he received his bachelor of science in education in social science and geography and where he met the love of his life, Earlene Ohlsen.
Ron and Earlene were married on Dec. 18, 1960, in Tuscola, Illinois. He went on to receive his master’s in guidance and counseling from Illinois State University in 1963. Ron began his 33-year career in education in 1961 as a social science teacher in Heyworth, Illinois, and went on to 27 years of high school administration as a counselor, activity director, dean, assistant principal and director of student services for District 211 in Illinois. During that time, he also served as a board member for the Schaumburg-Hoffman Estates United Way Crusaders of Mercy, Elk Grove-Schaumburg Township Mental Health and Salvation Army Family Counseling.
Ron and Earlene often “escaped” urban life to the beauty of Wisconsin through many family camping trips and kept a permanent camper at Merry Mac’s Camping by Devil’s Lake from 1979-1992. After retiring from education in 1994, they made Wisconsin their home when they purchased their Freedom Woods property. During his last 24 years living in North Freedom, Ron was an avid supporter of environmental and conservation causes in and around the Baraboo Bluffs including Friends of Devil’s Lake, Madison Audubon Society, Christmas Bird Counts, Badger Ammo re-use initiative, Upper Wisconsin Dells State Natural Area, and Sauk County’s Baraboo Range Protection Program.
He served as a president of the Baraboo Range Preservation Association, and worked with planning and zoning of the town of North Freedom. Passions included history, travel, restoring natural areas on his Freedom Woods property, cooking meals for his family, and lively conversations around the dinner table.
Ron is survived by his wife, Earlene; children, Todd (Beth) Persche, Jeff (Janice) Persche and Marchelle Miller; and grandchildren, Maia and Malachi Persche, Taylor and Sam Persche, and Megan and Sarah Miller.
A celebration of his life will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 2, 2019, at Baraboo Arts Center in Baraboo. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Baraboo Range Preservation Association or the Baraboo Public Library, where the donations will be used to fund future opportunities for walks through our beautiful landscape and the joys of reading, two of life’s pleasures that Ron cherished. Memorials may also be made out to the American Heart Association.
Redlin Funeral Home is assisting the family.