Ronald N. Volz of Evans City was a civic-minded family man, owner of two funeral homes, and a devoted fan of Pontiac GTOs from the early muscle car era.
He died July 19 at age 75 after suffering from lung ailments that plagued him for many years.
Volz and his wife, Suzie Volz, owned the A. Carl Kinsey-Ronald N. Volz Funeral Homes in Evans City and Zelienople. His son, RJ, is running the family business.
He was a member of the Evans City Lions Club, member and commander of American Legion Post 219 in Evans City and a member and president of the Butler County Funeral Directors Association. He was also a member of the Evans City Salvation Army Unit and a member of the Evans City Historical Society.
His wife called him Ronny.
After graduating from high school and serving in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, he worked cutting asbestos for air filters used in mining, but didn’t like the job and was looking for another one, she said.
He interviewed for a job at a utility company, but was turned away after disclosing that his uncle worked there, she said.
His next stop was to see Suzie’s uncle, Carl Kinsey, at the funeral home he opened in 1938.
“On the way home, he stopped at the funeral home and asked my aunt and uncle. They said they have no partner or anyone to leave the business to,” she said.
So, Ronny attended and graduated from Butler County Community College and then the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science in 1971.
“In 1972, we became partners with my uncle,” Suzie Volz said.
They gradually bought the business from her uncle and opened their second funeral home in Zelienople in 2005.
Ronny and his family also gave back to the community.
As a Legion member, he worked with other organizations to place flags on veterans’ graves at the Evans City Cemetery for more than 25 years.
During his 49 years with the Lions Club, he organized the annual Halloween parade, Easter egg hunt and delivery of fruit baskets to residents of President’s Square.
“He organized the Halloween parade for a ton of years,” said John Rogers, Lions Club president. “He also ran the Easter Egg hunt. His family bought Christmas trees to donate for Lions Club charities.”
The Volz family also donated to the matching funds the borough needed for a grant that was used to renovate the EDCO Park pool.
“They were a vital part of getting our park renovated. His family has helped not only with donations, but coming over and donating their time as well,” Rogers said.
Suzie Volz said Ronny was active in the community until about five years ago, when his health problems slowed him down.
Long before be became a businessman, he chafed the Navy brass with a little holiday prank while he was stationed in Alaska.
On Christmas Eve one year, he sent the message “jingle bells” in Morse code over the airwaves to the entire fleet.
“He got reprimanded for that,” Suzie said. “He was high clearance security. He sent ‘jingle bells’ out over the whole fleet and the rear admiral happened to get it, and he was in big trouble. They must have laughed it off in the end. They didn’t kick him out.”
Before entering the service, his father bought him a 1965 GTO. After he returned, he bought himself a 1967 convertible model with the Ram Air intake.
He sold both cars while attending college, but always wanted another one, she said.
Years later, when their daughter, Heather, and son, RJ, were young adults, Ronny saw a 1967 GTO drive past the funeral home. He managed to keep tabs on the vehicle until one day he saw it listed for sale in a newspaper.
She said other people were interested in the car, but Ronny offered $500 more than the owner was asking and bought the car. He had it restored to its original condition in 1991 and eventually bought a second ’67 GTO.
“We would go to a car show every weekend, Saturday and Sunday. We had all kinds of trophies. We had a lot of good times,” Suzie Volz said.
Those trophies include a coveted first-place award from a GTO Association of America national convention.
She said she will miss her husband.
“He was a very caring person. He kept saying, ‘You took good care of me,’” she said.