Ronald Harvey Plant passed away on the morning of Saturday, April 16, 2022, in Jerome, Idaho at the age of 90.
Ron was born on February 17, 1932, in Long Island City ( Manhattan), New York to Jack Celtic Plant and Gloria Evangeline Lussier Plant. His sister, June Plant Thomlinson, was born in 1937.
Ron’s best New York memory was of attending the 1939-1940 World's Fair in New York City, New York with his father and his sister. The theme was "The World of Tomorrow.” Over 44 million people attended. At the fair, he saw the first version of the television being demonstrated, and he and his sister June sat in a small recording studio and recorded a record together. It was of them talking and laughing together. As a child, Ron hated the cold winters in New York and remembered yelling out passionately one day, "I hate snow!"
In 1940, his father took a job at the U.S. Naval Shipyards as a diesel marine engineer outfitting warships for the U.S. Navy in southern California. In order to relocate to California, Jack had wanted to sail down the eastern seaboard of the U.S. and through the Panama Canal up to California, but WWII broke out, and the State Dept. would not allow any pleasure boats to sail along the eastern coast of the U.S., due to German boats being spotted in the Atlantic Ocean. Since he could not sail to California, Jack sold his boat to his cousin, bought a new car (a Hudson), and drove the family across the United States. Ron remembered seeing many interesting places, including Yellowstone National Park, on that trip from New York to California. Upon arriving in California, his father tried to join the U.S. Navy but was told that he was too old. He was able to join the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. The Plant family lived first in Los Angeles and then later in Long Beach, California. Ron loved Southern California and loved living near the ocean.
When Ron was about eight or nine years old, his father bought him his first movie camera. It had a crank handle, and he used it so much that he wore it out! One film that he kept over the years was of the Long Beach Pike. He did a panoramic shot of the entire amusement area, turning around so quickly that the viewer is likely to get motion sickness. Later his camera skills would greatly improve. Once, he got into trouble with his parents when he tried to film an explosion by blowing up his grandfather's mailbox, which looked like a small house. He filmed the house exploding into flames up close, creating the convincing illusion that he was filming an actual house blowing up and burning to the ground, but since the “house” was a detailed, hand-crafted mailbox, his film was not popular with his parents at the time.
When he was in the third grade, he met his best friend, Alan. They would spend many happy and adventurous years together. When they were growing up, the two friends rode their bicycles all over the city of Long Beach. They remained lifelong friends. As a child, and throughout his life, Ron liked to play very creative practical jokes on people. On one occasion, Ron and his friend, Alan, secretly put exploding powder in his mother's cigarettes. They then hid at the top of the stairs and waited until Ron's mother passed out the cigarettes to her friends. The unsuspecting women got the surprise of their lives when they lit up their cigarettes, and they exploded, leaving a black powder all over their faces. Ron remembered getting the worst spanking of his life that day, but he said that it was well worth it.
Another time, Ron and college friends set up a mannequin in a stall in a women's restroom of Long Beach City College. They used their electronic know-how to scare unsuspecting women by making the mannequin talk when they entered the stall in the restroom. They also stole a cadaver from a science lab and dressed it up in janitor’s clothes that they got from a closet. They then posed the “body” on a stool in a random closet with a mop and bucket. When the police arrived and took a closer look, they were puzzled to find that the “janitor” had been dead a long time and was carefully preserved!
During Ron's teenage years, he learned to play the clarinet and the alto saxophone. He also loved to roller skate and was quite a talented skater. When he was in high school, he entered a couples’ swing dance roller skating contest with a friend from his class. Ron remembered flipping her in the air and swinging her under his legs, all while they were both on roller skates. They won the first-place prize, which was a huge silver cup trophy.
Ron graduated from Long Beach Polytechnic High School in the spring of 1951. After high school, Ron attended Long Beach City College and studied communications in radio and television. During this time, he also played in a jazz band and used the money he made to pay his college tuition. Ron later attended the University of Southern California (USC), where he studied motion picture production. When offered his first job in the film industry, he left just a few credits short of receiving his degree.
In around 1951 or 1952, Ron had his first paid film job, filming cars being assembled. Roy Rogers, a western film star, saw the film and liked Ron's style. He invited Ron to come to Republic Studios, where Ron was then trained as a film editor. Ron was not a Christ follower when he met Roy Rogers and his wife, Dale Evans, but he was impressed by what sincere and kind people they were. He described them as the first Christians that he met who seemed like genuine people, and though he still thought that “most Christians” were “phonies,” his encounters with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans planted a seed in Ron’s heart that became a part of his Christian testimony later. One day while he was working at Republic Studios, Ron was sitting alone at a table at the rooftop cafeteria when John Wayne approached him, shook his hand, and asked if he could join him for lunch. They both had sack lunches with them and sat and talked easily. Ron remembered John Wayne being a “regular sort of guy” who had huge hands.
Ron explained that the editing that he did for Republic Studios was more formulaic than creative. He would be given a list of film scenes that he had to put together and a huge supply of film footage that he would splice together to create a film. In the stock footage, the villain always wore black, and the hero always wore white. Most of the shots did not show faces, so they could easily be interchanged in different films. Ron would choose footage of the hero riding to a cliff being chased by the villain and splice in close-ups of whomever the actor was in the current film.
Ron recalled one time when he was working against a crunch deadline and made the mistake of accidentally splicing in the hero getting ready to jump up on a horse and then suddenly appearing on the back of the horse. He had skipped one piece of film by accident, which made it appear that the hero was magically transported to the horse. He didn’t see the mistake until the film aired, but it went by quickly enough that the film executives did not seem to notice. Later, Ron worked at RKO Studios on horror movies. He laughed about those movies when he described them as being “real stinkers.”
In 1954, Ron eloped with Margaret Degen. It was a spontaneous decision for both Ron and Margaret, and Ron’s mother was not pleased to have the married couple return and move into her house. She was unkind to Margaret, which led to their short marriage. When the couple split, unknown to them both, Margaret was already pregnant with Ron’s first child, Denise Renae Plant Hayward, who was born on December 28, 1955. Ron would not learn of her birth for several years and would not have the opportunity to meet her until she was fully grown.
Ron had a lot of technical skills and was always studying the latest tech manuals and learning how to repair equipment as it was being produced. Along the way, he used these technical skills when he worked at other places such as the Bell and Howell Company. He would continue repairing Bell and Howell projectors for many years after the company closed the office where he was working.
It was while he was attending Long Beach City College, that Ron met his dear friend, Gene Friese. Gene invited Ron to come to his church many times, however, Ron, having had a bad experience with his mother’s religious beliefs, was determined to "never set foot in a church again.” When Gene invited Ron to an evangelistic tent meeting, Ron finally agreed to go, thinking to himself, "If I say yes, I will get him off my back about going to church, and it’s a tent and not a church, so what could possibly happen to me there?" While Ron was in the tent meeting, he heard the Gospel message, the good news about Jesus dying for our sins on the cross so that we can have a close relationship with God. He heard that Jesus rose from the dead, proving that He was whom He claimed to be, the Son of God and one with the Father. Hearing this message touched something deep inside Ron. He thought about what he was hearing and how different it was from the religion he knew growing up, and he decided that he wanted Jesus to be his Savior. He wanted to know God personally. Ron remembered that the choir was singing the song, “I’d Rather Have Jesus than Silver or Gold” the night that he responded to the Gospel. After that night, he always liked that song, especially when George Beverly Shea sang it at Billy Graham’s crusades. He would further cement that decision to follow Jesus when he talked to the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lakewood (located in Long Beach, California). There he would be baptized and join the church. Later, he would be married by that same pastor at that same church. In his later years, he would think back to the seeds that Roy Rogers and Dale Evans planted in his heart by being kind, generous, and faithful believers. He would choose to plant the same seeds for others that he would meet along the way.
During the Korean War, Ron enlisted in the Army National Guard of the United States and the Army National Guard of California as a Radar Repairman. Though his unit was activated and called up into service, he was never deployed because the war ended. He served until September 1, 1958.
Ronald Harvey Plant married Myrla Jeanne Jule in Long Beach, California at the First Baptist Church of Lakewood on October 26, 1958, when she was 18, and he was 26. In August of 1959, Ron and Myrla began their family together, welcoming Denine Marie Plant Wolden (1959), Janis Kristine Plant Walton (1961), Wendy Anne Plant Clark (1964), Darrin Alan Plant (1965), and Julie Lynn Plant Gaudreault (1969). Ron and Myrla attended the First Baptist Church of Lakewood for many years. Myrla sang in the choir, and Ron worked in the sound booth. They attended church on Sunday mornings and evenings, Wednesday night Bible study, and other meetings and events throughout the week. The church was at the center of their family life.
Ron worked for World Vision International as their head of film production. The first film he made for World Vision was entitled "Vietnam Profile,” a film that was broadcast on national television. He won an academy award for his work on this project but did not attend the award ceremony because he had the flu. He said that back then, “those things were no big deal.”
Ron also made other films, such as " Least Ones" about Korean orphans and "No Greater Love" about orphans in Vietnam. He also traveled around the world with World Vision from 1965 - 1968 and went to 22 different countries, including Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, India, Afghanistan, Thailand, Kenya, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, and Indonesia.
Ron met Mother Teresa at her mission in India when she was still Sister Teresa. He said that she was a gentle, kind, and loving woman who was also very strong and cared for the dying because she believed that “no one should die alone.” He met Anita Bryant after she became a controversial Christian figure because of her outspoken stance against homosexuality. He said that she too was a strong and kind woman and was being wrongly characterized in the press.
After Ron left World Vision International, he freelanced as a technician. He opened his own audio-visual company which he called “AV Service and Sales” and at one time “Advance Audio Visual,” both located in Long Beach, California. Myrla wanted to call it “Advanced” Audio Visual because that was more grammatically correct, but Ron argued that shortening it made it show up sooner in the alphabetical listings of the phone book (which it did).
During Ron’s later years in California, he had a job installing customized theater systems in celebrity homes. It was through this work that he was given free office space in a film studio in Los Angeles County. At the studio, he joined a Bible study and became friends with film executives who were “undercover Christians” in the industry, as being a Christian in the film industry was not popular and could potentially mean the end of a person’s career. Christians were still learning to be more open about their faith while pursuing projects that represented Christ well.
Although Ron's father was born and raised in England, Ron never knew his family in the United Kingdom, until his daughter, Janis, posted a question about Ron's father on the chat board of genealogy.com: “Who is Jack Celtic Plant?” She received an almost immediate response to the question. As a result, Ron discovered that he had two half-sisters living in the Southampton area of Great Britain. Their names were Margaret Plant and Madeline Plant Wheeler. Ron also found out that he had a half-brother named John Plant, who had passed away at the age of 5. Ron began corresponding with his two half-sisters in Great Britain, which led to weekly telephone calls. He was able to develop a long-distance relationship with them and enjoyed talking with them as often as he could. Ron's sisters also told him that he had a niece, a nephew, a cousin, and other relatives living in the United Kingdom. Jack had told Ron a story of leaving a wife behind in England before coming to the United States and marrying Gloria, yet all throughout Ron’s childhood, he had the sense that his father was not telling the whole truth about his past. Jack passed away in 1985, having never shared the full story of his past. Ron wanted to know the truth, so he prayed and asked God to reveal it. He was thrilled when he found his two half-sisters, and his first response was, "God has answered my prayers!"
In 2008, Ron moved with his wife, Myrla, to Jerome, Idaho after his daughter, Janis, her husband Tad, and their five children, relocated to Idaho. Ron and Myrla began attending Northridge Fellowship Church in Jerome, Idaho, where they met many wonderful friends.
Ron and Myrla valued family and gathering all together, and often welcomed other people to come on in and be a part of the Plant family chaos. They freely welcomed people who needed a place to stay for a while and they both enjoyed laughter, family dinners, and lots of noise and activity. Ron never minded a house crowded with people and was warm and welcoming, always eager to tell jokes and share stories.
Ron and Myrla encouraged their children to be creative and to pursue writing, art, music, drama, and film. They enjoyed watching their children perform and were proud fans of their accomplishments. They taught their children to make God, church, ministry, and family priorities in their lives and to value the Bible and know it well. As a family, they often had lively discussions about how to apply the Bible to real-life situations. Ron and Myrla were married for 61 years. They both said that the key to a long marriage was to forgive each other and to have a good sense of humor.
Ron was preceded in death by his parents, Jack and Gloria; and his sister, June.
He is survived by June’s son, Joe; his wife, Connie; and their children. He is also survived by his six children and their spouses, Denise (Mike) Hayward, Denine (Jim) Wolden, Janis (Tad) Walton, Darrin (Kathy) Plant, Wendy (Roy) Clark, and Julie Gaudreault. He leaves behind thirteen grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
Ron’s family gathered to remember and honor him and to celebrate his life on Saturday, August 6, 2022, at 10:30 a.m., at NorthRidge Fellowship in Jerome, Idaho. Pastor Mickie Kelly officiated the ceremony. Janis sang “Amazing Grace” as the prelude to the service, and her husband, Tad, opened the service with prayer. Each of Ron’s six children shared special memories of their dad in short filmed segments throughout the service. Wendy composed and sang “I Remember When” about some of the special memories of their dad. Denine delivered the eulogy, and Darrin made some closing remarks and closed the service with prayer. There was a lunch reception after the service that was generously hosted by the church. Farnsworth Mortuary of Jerome, Idaho handled burial details. Both Ron and Myrla are buried in the cemetery in Jerome, Idaho.
Memories and condolences may be shared with the family on Ron’s memorial webpage at www.farnsworthmortuary.com.