Ronald Gronski, who was loved by many, died April 4 in Arlington, Virginia. He was 75.
Ronald’s parents emigrated to the United States from Poland and first lived in Scranton, PA, where his father worked as a coal miner. As many miners were getting black lung disease, his mother Catherine convinced his father Anthony to move to Brooklyn, NY where Ronald was born. As the baby of the family, with two older sisters — Regina, who passed recently and Alberta, who resides in New Jersey, Ronald “took full advantage of the situation” and was happy to be spoiled. His father got a job in a lumber yard, only to succumb to black lung when Ronald was still a child. Catherine had opened a small grocery store across from the lumber yard which paved the way for a better life for the Gronski family.
At 7, Ronald started learning the accordion, a popular instrument in the Polish neighborhood of Greenpoint. From that time on, music played a major role in his life. He went on to learn the clarinet and saxophone and later attended the “famed” High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan. It was there he met his future wife, Alice, who was studying the violin. They became best friends and high school sweethearts. After graduating, he was accepted into the prestigious Julliard School, where he majored in clarinet. He then went on to serve in the military as a member of the United States Air Force Band.
Ronald completed his BA in Fine Arts and a Master’s in Music Education at the Manhattan School of Music. He resided on Long Island for many years, serving as the Director of Music at Woodmere Academy, a private pre-K-12 international school. He later switched careers, first opening up the Electric Ballroom nightclub in Atlanta, and then managing a real estate office in his native Brooklyn. However it was his long love of music and children that brought him back to teaching special education for the New York City Board of Education, where he was recognized “Teacher of the Year” by Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers.
After retiring, Ronald continued to teach music privately in Brooklyn, until moving to Northern Virginia in early 2017 with his Havanese dog, Desi. Ron is survived by his son Adam and wife Marni, daughter Karyn and husband Scott, daughter Jennifer and husband Craig. Also surviving are 6 grandchildren: Bennett Gronski, Alec and Zachary Goffin, Jonah, Allegra and Emy Sabal.
A burial will be determined at a later date by Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations in Ronald Gronski’s memory may be made to Virginia Hospital Center which provided such amazing care over the past few years.