Changing of the years

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Position: Chaplain of St. Andrews Estates North, Boca Raton.

Other job experience: Former minister of Christian education, minister of missions, men's ministry director, teacher of Bible and philosophy at Westminster Academy; director of research for Coral Ridge Ministries, librarian at Knox Seminary; former pastor in Wheeling, W. Va.; former assistant pastor in Rome, Ga.

Other community posts: Overseer of cataloging project for the late Rev. D. James Kennedy's personal library of 12,000 volumes.

Education: Bachelor's degree from Westminster College, New Wilmington, Pa.; master's degree in divinity from Gordon-Conwell Seminary, South Hamilton, Mass.; doctorate of ministry degree from Knox Seminary.

Personal: Age 65. Born in Philadelphia.

Family: Married to Nancy, a preschool teacher at Westminster. Children: Amy, 38; Peter, 35; Michelle, 33; Jennifer, 30. Thirteen grandchildren.

A distinctive feature of your approach to retirement ministry?

It's a series of downsizing. Letting go of your job. Selling your home for an apartment. Seeing the deaths of loved ones.

That sounds like retirement can be a sad time.

It can be, but you can also move into a warm community like this. They love to reminisce, but not they're living in the past. They go to concerts and theater, and they do community service. Changing of the years might be a better metaphor.

If you couldn't be a minister, what would you be?

In the FBI. I was once interested in law enforcement, I guess because of the idea of helping people.

What do you do to relax?

I enjoy swimming, tennis and boating on the Indian River. We have a timeshare in Sebastian, and it comes with a boat. And I love playing grandfather to my 13 grandchildren.

Favorite pastime?

I'm still active in ham radio. During that spate of hurricanes, when cell phones weren't working, it was great in helping to link people.

Do you have a hero?

My great-great-great-great grandfather, Robert Hamill Nassau, was a missionary to Africa. He founded Lambarini, where Albert Schweitzer later came. He mastered seven languages and dialogues of the people of Gabon. He was an authority on tropical fever. He was an abolitionist, working on the other side of the Atlantic. His 145 volumes of journals are in the Princeton library.

Do you have a treasured possession?

My grandfather's early-model Martin guitar, serial letter E. It's lovely rosewood with mother-of-pearl inlay and a stripe up the back. I brought it to Westminster College and organized a group called the Westminstrels. I use it now in working with Alzheimer's patients. It's amazing, their response to music.

What do you wish people understood about you?

Some people still think ministers are super-saints. Last summer at McDonald's, one of the kids at Coral Ridge came from Sunday school. He blurted out, "It's Rev. Ron! Look! He eats! He eats!"

When things get you down, how do you reconnect with the spirit?

Psalms, hymns, spiritual songs. The other day I was in my office after someone had passed away. I just picked up my guitar and started singing praise songs. It revived me again.

Motto, or favorite scripture verse?

Something my high school English teacher wrote on the chalkboard: "The things that happened to me were in order that things might happen in me, so that greater things might happen through me."

— James D. Davis

Do you know someone we should profile? Tell Religion Editor James D. Davis at 954-356-4730 or jdavis@SunSentinel.com.

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