To those in Meriden, Ronald DeJohn was the reliable smiling face on the Max E. Muravnick Senior Citizens' Center bus who helped seniors and the disabled get around the community. Just one town over in Southington, he was known as a dedicated police officer, avid antique car collector and the man with the perfect lawn.
No matter who you ask, however, those who knew DeJohn all used the same term to describe his demeanor — hard-working.
DeJohn, a retired 25-year patrolman with the Southington Police Department died over the weekend after suffering a stroke, but friends, family and coworkers said his memory will live on through his seemingly endless amount of energy.
“Ronnie was always known for his work ethic. He may have worked more than any other officer in the time I knew him,” said Southington Police Sgt. Lowell DePalma, who worked six years with DeJohn before his retirement in 1990. “It seemed he never asked for a day off and never got sick.”
Born in Meriden in 1938, DeJohn didn’t have to travel far to find his home. He and his wife Louise Giano DeJohn found a home in Southington, and he joined the police department as a supernumerary in 1965 before taking on a full-time role with the department in 1967, working as a patrolman and with the department’s accident reconstruction unit.
DeJohn didn’t just work hard as an officer. His son, Southington resident Michael DeJohn, said he was a good father and loved to work on antique cars in his free time.
An avid collector, DeJohn owned at least 20 different cars and would repair them to their original state then move on to the next one, his son said. He often found the cars while traveling around with his wife, Michael DeJohn said, and collected a variety that included Mustangs, convertibles and many others.
“He didn’t ever make much of a profit, but he never intended to,” DeJohn said. “It was just something he enjoyed doing and when a car was restored, he wanted a new one to work on.”
But it wasn’t just antique automobiles that he was recognized for either. DeJohn was a bit of a landscaper, his son said, always keeping his own yard in top shape.
When his mother passed away, Ronald DeJohn bought her home and would take time each week to improve the yard and make sure it was always well maintained and beautiful.
“I didn’t know him well, but one thing I remember is you always knew where he lived,” said Walter Hushak. “His yard was always perfect and you’d drive by and know that was his house.”
Although not necessarily seen as a social butterfly, DeJohn had no problem making friends and was beloved by members of the Muravnick Senior Center where he started as a part-time bus driver in 2000 and moved into a full-time role in 2003. In more than a decade with the senior center, director John Hogarth said he never missed a shift.
He had worked at the senior center until his death, last taking a shift less than two weeks ago, Hogarth said.
“He was a real gentleman. He understood how to work with the general public and he was as reliable of an employee as you’d ever find,” Hogarth said. “There are a lot of people who are upset by his passing and keep asking us what happened. He was loved here.”
DeJohn was buried Wednesday at St. Thomas Cemetery on Meriden Avenue in Southington. See his obituary here for more details.
This article first appeared in .