Class Of 1964 USAF Academy


(A draft obituary; or how to kill two birds and one Zoomie with….)
Ron250.jpg Colonel Ronald V. Growden, United States Air Force (Retired), died on (day & date) of (concise reason for death, e.g., from gun shot wounds inflicted by a jealous husband.). He was (age – the older, the better) years old.

Born in Cumberland, Maryland on October 9, 1942, Colonel Growden was a member of the Fort Hill High School Class of 1960 and graduated with the sixth class of the United States Air Force Academy in 1964. In 1976, he was awarded a Master of Arts in Middle East Area Studies from Florida State University. He was a USAF Command Pilot with over 6,000 flying hours in a total of seven different military aircraft.

Colonel Growden served for thirty years in the Air Force, flying combat support in Vietnam and air evacuation and VIP support missions in the United States, designing and teaching courses on the Middle East at the USAF Special Operations School, and commanding a VIP flying detachment. In his final military assignment, he served as the USAF Air Attaché to the Arab Republic of Egypt. The US flag used in his life celebration (see below) flew over the US Embassy in Cairo on July 4, 1990 and was presented to Colonel Growden on the occasion of his retirement from active duty.

Colonel Growden was preceded in death by his father, Staff Sergeant Vernon Grant Growden, United States Army (killed in action during World War Two) and his mother, Margaret Virginia (Zembower) Growden. He is survived by his wife and the love of his life, Desiree (Taroski) Growden, three daughters --- Jennifer Rebecca Growden and her husband, Stephen Haedicke, of New Orleans, LA; Emily Clarke Almstead Growden and her husband, Derek Almstead, of Athens, GA; and Jessica Lynn Growden of Cumberland, MD --- as well as a step-daughter, Holly Ann Diggs, also of Cumberland, MD (update, as required – to include the numerous loving grandkids). (You may list other relatives and/or friends as you may deem appropriate, but please make certain beforehand that each signs a “will not sue” agreement.)

After retirement from the Air Force, Ron's life took a decidedly different turn. He became a professional actor, possibly the first Zoomie to do so. His Thespian travels even took him back to USAFA as a member of the touring cast of “Ragtime”, where he discovered areas of Arnold Hall that he had never before seen. He also played West Point in “Ragtime”, signing the ceremonial playbill as “Ron Growden, USAFA '64!” The tour of 105 cities and 234 performances offered other fascinating discoveries, as well. For example, did you know that once an overweight electrician died in the thunder room high above the proscenium at the Macon, GA slave-built theatre, remaining in that overheated place until he exploded? He's still on the walls….

Along the way, and in keeping with the old adage, “Don't quit your day-job”, Ron suffered low-paying, short-term roles as a physician recruiter and medical clinic manager, and as the occasional Arabic instructor at Frostburg State (MD) University. Entering his eighth decade, he finally built his place in the country, christening it Sahil --- Arabic for “a place of ease”.

At his request, Colonel Growden's remains were cremated and then interred in a private ceremony at the Rocky Gap Veterans Cemetery, located in the mountains of western Maryland. His 1939 Gibson guitar, originally belonging to his dad, went to daughter Emily. His 1966 Corvette, after transporting his cremains to Rocky Gap, went to daughter Jennifer. Sahil, of course, went to his Amira or princess, Desiree.

Remember Ron's life celebration mentioned above? It's set for (whenever --- remember, where there are three or four gathered together, there will be a fifth!) at historic Emmanuel Church, Cumberland, MD, at whose vestry hall dances he met interesting cutie pies in the late ‘50's/early 60's (the Pontiac convertible helped) and into which Episcopalian congregation he was confirmed in 2005 (sorry, g-g-grandfather, John Wesley G).

His dog misses him….

             All we ever want to do is dance.
             Follow your bliss…. Joseph Campbell

             In ev'ry tale, a bit ‘o truth must out.
             Leave ‘em owin'….

Ron Growden
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