Essex, VT/Ponce Inlet, FL
Ronald Richard Lamell, 76, passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack on Saturday, February 24, 2018 in Ponce Inlet, FL.
Ron was born September 20, 1941 in Burlington, the son of the late Richard and Irene Villeneuve Lamell. He was married to his beloved wife Sheila O’Keeffe on April 5, 1964 and together shared an incredible life journey. They lived, loved and worked together for many years.
Ron Lamell was a prominent businessman in Essex, VT. As a young man aged 20, he travelled down to NJ to work while living with his aunt, uncle & cousins. There, he met the love of his life, Sheila O’Keeffe. When he returned to Vt in 1964 with Sheila as his bride, they lived in his parents’ basement for a time while Ron worked beside his Father, Richard, at the family sawmill. It was during this period, that Ron drove his #11 1956 Ford at Catamount Stadium in Milton, VT.
His racing career was short lived, however, for as his family grew, Ron decided to quit racing to build the first of the three houses they lived in. Then, sadly in 1970, the mill was destroyed by a devastating fire. By now the Father of three, Ronald Jr., Michele & Keith, Ron rebuilt and devoted himself to grow the sawmill into the successful Lamell Lumber Corporation that it is today. His success enabled him to later become the Crew Chief & Corporate Sponsor for both Ron Jr & Keith in their racing careers as award winning drivers in the Busch Grand National Championship North Series.
The Lamell Corporation has grown to have many businesses under it’s moniker. These businesses grew out of Ron’s intelligence, strong sense of industry & keen business mind. He is regarded by his colleagues in the industry both locally & nationally as a respected & ethical businessman.
His friend, Norm Cyr wrote: “One instance of Ron’s true character comes to mind: “...An acquaintance of both Ron and I asked us “How come Ron and his Dad had sold us our first sawmill; Norm could have become competition? Ron’s reply to this was “There’s enough here for all of Us.”
Donald & Nancy posted that: “Ron was a Brilliant Man, whom anyone could talk to about anything and everything.” Words describing Ron from those stopping by & posting their condolences this past week include: Smart, Wonderful, Kind, Quiet, Good listener, Soft spoken, Humble, Successful, Friend, Ethical, Respected, Genuine, Family Man & Father figure to many.
Ron was truly a life-long learner. Since childhood, he played with, in and around cars. This interest led him as an adult to become an avid car collector many of which he restored. He took courses throughout his life, whether it be at the high school enrichment programs for algebra or Dale Carnegie corporate leadership training to improve his skills & performance. He studied the piano & took art lessons. He encouraged and supported anyone in the family, especially his 22 nieces and nephews to continue their education. He earned his pilot’s license to fly both his airplane & helicopter. His nephew, Jonathan, who is a mechanical engineer, when asked who he learned the most from responded that “Uncle Ron is the best, mechanical engineer I’ve ever known. He taught me so much.”
As busy as Ron was with his businesses and interests, he always made time for Sheila, his children and his parents. As his children grew, he strongly supported them in all their activities; Michele, through the years she participated in gymnastics and Ron & Keith on their wrestling teams & racing. Ron was a supporter both of the high school wrestling & the Warrior Wrestling teams.
As a young married couple Ron & Sheila made time to take in teenaged brother's-in-law over school breaks to live and work at the mill where they learned so many mechanical & life skills. They hosted a variety of nephews from NJ & VT & their kids’ friends in their home where they also worked at the mill & wrestled with Ron Jr & Keith.
Throughout his life, Ron was a wonderful son. He treated his parents with utmost love & respect until their deaths. He once gave ‘Peppy’ a Model A car for his birthday. Oftentimes, he would go to a car show in Stowe for the weekend with the motorhome while his Mother, Irene, would go up with her camper to sell her “treasures”. This was quality time for this Mother/Son team. And, when his Mother died, Ron was grief stricken but had no regrets about the loving connection he had with both his parents.
Ron & Sheila spent a good deal of their time in their motorhome touring this beautiful country which he loved so very much. He would take her to places off the grid to track down a car, dune buggy, helicopter or a motorized bicycle that he was after to restore. This pathfinder showed Sheila the world as he explored it to discover his latest motorized finds. Ron’s coast-to -coast “Discovery Tours” showed his darling “Mamma Bear”, as he called her, just how grand this land of ours is.
Ron moored a pontoon boat at their camp home on Lake Champlain. A bit later, they joined his now retired parents in FL when they bought a condo there. Eventually they built their castle by the Sea on the beach in Ponce Inlet. This was the house that was so dear to Ron. Sheila & he made many new friends at the North Turn, most of whom wintered from Canada at the Inlet. These new friends became their North Turn Racing Family where they competed fiercely against one another at shuffleboard.
Ron gave Sheila free range to decorate their houses which she did so with tasteful elegance & comfort. Whatever house of Ron & Sheila’s one was in; one knew immediately that they were welcomed. They made every house of theirs into a HOME.
Sheila & Ron rededicated themselves to each other on their 25th wedding anniversary 29 years ago at St Pius X. The party that followed was replete with a turkey dinner (Ron’s favorite), Irish dancing & an ‘real’ Elvis impersonator! Everyone has family pictures of this grand celebration.
Seventeen years ago Ron became a “Poppy” when Chelsea, the first of his four grandchildren was born. Her birth was followed by Kyle. Ethan & Wyatt. These kids took a prime position in his life. He gave them his all...taking them to DisneyWorld & camping trips, building things with them & having them work at the mill. He was so very proud of their academic achievements & supported them in their sporting activities. But most of all, Poppy spent as much time with them as possible listening as he learned about them and their world.
Just as Ron spent a lot of time making lumber, he also made time to spent with his extended Villenueuve & O’Keeffe families... which to this date, includes about 75 O’Keeffes. The Lamell homes in both Vermont & Florida became full serviced destination resorts for all in their family & friends circle. We skied, snowmobiled, skeet shot, rode on boats, bicycles, sleighs, in rumble seats, dune buggies, tractors,18 wheelers, the Cobra and for up in the airplane and ‘Marilyn’ the helicopter. Their houses hosted reunions, friendly gatherings, birthday parties & honeymooners. And, there always was an invitation for family to attend the Daytona 500 with them. This Frenchman was truly a member of our Irish clan.
Many times Ron & Sheila drove the motorhome down to NJ & took all the Villenueuve Aunties for a fun trip to Atlantic City! They invited family & friends to feast at their backyard Pig Roasts among the splendor of VT autumn colors. Their hospitality was the Lamell gift that kept on giving. Time spent with family was EVERYTHING to Ronald Richard Lamell.
Now that Ron’s earthly life has ended, those of us whose lives he touched will no longer be spending the precious gift of time with him here on earth. His passing is a tremendous loss to our clan. Yet more than this, it is unbelievably difficult for Sheila, Ron Jr, Keith, Michele; as well as John, Chelsea, Kyle, Ethan & Wyatt. Their road, going forward without him, will be difficult. They will all need continued support from the rest of the clan as they go forward without their beloved Husband, Father & Grandfather’s presence on earth.
He also leaves behind a countless number of extended family and friends. Far too many to count from every corner of our Country spanning from the Green Mountains, to the Midwest, the desert, the beaches of Florida and even California.
Ron was predeceased by his father in 2004 and his mother in 2012. Tragically he lost his brother Frederick in 1959 and his sister Marion Dyke in 1999.
The world is now a better place because this man, Ron Lamell, walked the earth. And, the faith that we were raised in teaches us that we will all meet again. Farewell, for a time, dear Ron.
Visiting Hours will be held on Thursday, March 8, 2018 from 4 to 8 pm in the Minor Funeral Home, Route 7 in Milton.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, March 9, 2018 at 10 am in St. Pius X Catholic Church in Essex Center. Burial will be held at a later date in the family lot in St. Luke’s Cemetery in Fairfax.
Following the Mass family, friends, acquaintances and coworkers are invited to a celebration of Ron’s life and to share precious memories at a reception to be held at The Catamount Country Club in Williston immediately following the Mass.
Memorial Contributions may be made to the American Heart Association, 434 Hurricane Lane, Williston, VT 05495 or to The Essex Warrior Wrestling Program, c/o Chantel Einhorn, 11 Tamarack Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452