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A Sad Farewell to Former GRS Violinist Ron Whaley

by Steve VanRavenswaay - GRS Cello


The members of the GRSMA were saddened recently to hear of the passing of our friend and former colleague violinist Ron Whaley. GRS cellist Steve VanRavenswaay wrote this remembrance of our fellow musician.

At the beginning of the 1978-79 season of the Grand Rapids Symphony I was a very young (19) cellist who had just returned from college and won a full time artist-in-residence position with the orchestra. I was assigned to the Ars Nova string quartet, the first violinist being a loud, sarcastic, cynical, chain smoking, coffee swilling, hot shot guy named Ron Whaley. Now, I was brought up as a very conservative Dutch Baptist boy in Holland, Michigan but had been force fed the real world in Baltimore, Maryland the year before and had succumbed to the pleasures and pitfalls of life that I had been sheltered from in my small town Midwest upbringing. Ron taught me how to balance life with music and professionalism. He taught me what it was to be an artist. He taught me how to enjoy excess and still maintain your wits so you could bring an “A” game to the stage the next night. When Ron moved to Phoenix to join the orchestra there many years ago, I lost contact with him. Many years later I was visiting with another friend by phone in Phoenix and the friend happened to mention that Ron had entered the restaurant where he was. When informed that I was on the phone, Ron asked to speak with me and it was as if we had never been apart. We conversed for at least 30 minutes by phone about his life and mine. Ron was my first Adult friend. I will forever be in his debt and he will be missed by all who knew him for his talent, for his talent, for his knowledge, and perhaps most of all for his boisterous and explosive laugh! R.I.P. Ron Whaley

Published obituary for Ron Whaley:


GoFundMe for Ron Whaley:

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