Tue, Jan 06, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Father Robert Ronald dies after 52 years of service

COMMUNITY WORK Despite being wheelchair-bound most of his life, Father Ronald made substantial contributions in vocational rehabilitation

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Ending a lifetime of contribution to Taiwan, Father Robert Ronald (劉建仁神父) died on Friday at the age of 76.

Father Ronald came to Taiwan in 1957. He initially came to study Chinese, but after one year he contracted polio, which was very common in Taiwan at the time. Because of the disease, he was wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life. However, this did not stop him from making a substantial contribution to the community in Taiwan.

In 1971, he started work as a consultant for vocational rehabilitation at Taipei Veterans General Hospital and continued there for 31 years. He also started Operation De-Handicap with a friend in 1974 and began work in psycho-social counseling, a form of counseling to help the disabled maintain their mental stability.

For his medical contributions to Taiwan, Father Ronald was awarded the Prestigious Medical Contribution Award in 2003 by former Department of Health minister Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁).

Because of the debilitating nature of his disease, Father Ronald’s muscles became weaker as he got older.

“Toward the end, he couldn't even lift his hand or eat a meal on his own,” said Father Jerry Martinson, his friend and vice president of Kuangchi Programs Services.

“In the last year, he often had to be rushed to hospital because of acute respiratory failure,” he said.

Father Ronald died at 7:50am on Friday of muscle weakness in the heart and lungs. His memorial service is open to the public and will be held on Saturday at 2pm at the Tien Educational Center.

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