Ronda Provost, Wantage, New Jersey, died peacefully at home surrounded by her family on Sunday, August 18, 2013, after a more than 24 year battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Ronnie was born Ronda Lynn Crossett on April 13, 1943, in Miami, Florida, to Lillian June Parker Roberts and John E. Crossett. She grew up in Miami, Florida, surrounded by a loving family, including older siblings, Sharon and David, grandparents Harry Roberts and Dorothy Biggerstaff Roberts and Hilda Borg Crossett, and great Aunt Sylvia Roberts Price and Judge Mitchel D. Price. Later, Ronnie graduated from Ernest M. Seaholm High School in Birmingham, Michigan, and, in 1965, she graduated from the University of Michigan.
Inspired by John F. Kennedy’s admonition to “ask what you can do for your country,” after college Ronnie joined the United States Peace Corps, spending two years teaching English at Tehran University, Tehran, Iran. It was in Iran that she met and married her husband of 46 years, Eugene (Gene) Provost, another Peace Corps volunteer. Her Peace Corps roommate and best friend, Karen Borchardt Bradley, was her maid of honor. They were married on February 24, 1967 at Consolata Cathedral, Dominican Monastery of our Lady of Persia, Tehran, Iran.
After their Peace Corps service, Ronnie and Gene lived briefly in New York City and Ann Arbor, Michigan, before settling in Nutley, New Jersey, where they lived for 32 years. With Ronnie’s loving guidance, their three daughters, Devon Rebecca, Sarah Gabrielle and Jordan Ariel, flourished in Nutley. Ronnie was a Girl Scout leader in Nutley for 8 years. Her children acquired a love of the arts and learned to swim, garden, camp and craft under her guidance. Most importantly, they learned to love and be loved because of her kind and nurturing spirit.
Ronnie’s creativity and entrepreneurial spirit led to a 23 year career in the craft business. She founded “Kookaburra Puppets” named in honor of her Australian ancestry, and worked as a designer and product manager for Tri-Chem, Inc., an international craft company. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1989, Ronnie retired on disability in 1995.
Despite her long struggle with Parkinson’s, she did not allow it to define her. Rather, she remained vibrant and active. She was an ardent and skilled gardener and loved to travel. She was thrilled to move to the serene rural environs of Wantage in Sussex County in 2004. She was a long-time member of the Parkinson’s Support Group of the Greater Ridgewood Area, participated in more than a dozen Parkinson’s Unity Walks in Central Park, New York City, and was an active member of the Sussex County chapter of SWIM, Inc., an organization that provides aquatic exercise and socialization to the movement impaired.
Most important to Ronnie was her family, which supported and comforted her throughout her long illness. Ronnie is survived by her husband, Gene, her daughters, Devon R. Gieger and her husband, David Gieger, of Vernon, New Jersey, Sarah G. Provost and her husband Eric Novak, of Brooklyn, New York, and Jordan A. Provost and her husband, Jason Wong, also of Brooklyn, New York. Also surviving are Ronnie’s six grandchildren, Kristyn, Chance and Charlie Gieger, June and Kai Novak, and Callum Wong. She is also survived by her sister, Sharon Crossett Reardon and her husband, Patrick Reardon, of Maryland, and by her brother, David A. Crossett and his wife, Becky Crossett, of Virginia. She is predeceased by her father, John E. Crossett, mother, June Roberts Crossett Willson, step-father, O. Harry Willson, aunt, Mary Josephine Roberts Rahn, and beloved niece, Shawn Crossett Benegar.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, October 5, 2013, at the Warwick Center’s Mulder Chapel, 62 Warwick Center Road, Warwick, NY 10990, at 12 noon, with repast to follow immediately. Donations in memory of Ronnie may be made to the following charitable organizations: the Parkinson’s Support Group of the Greater Ridgewood Area, c/o Helen Markey, 10 Twinbrook Court, Ramsey, NJ 07446; the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Grand Central Station, PO Box 4777, NYC, NY 10163; and SWIM, Inc., 120 Finderne Ave., Bridgewater, NJ 08807.