Ron Wilson has always loved trains. His father worked on the railroad, and many of his cherished childhood memories include traveling by train.
It’s always been an important part of his life, and now at 75, the Sterling Presbyterian Manor resident owns several model train sets and enjoyed being an active member of an area train club where he could commune with fellow enthusiasts.
So, it’s no wonder that when that train club disbanded, it left a hole in Ron’s life and his heart.
Sterling Presbyterian Manor staff and residents noticed this and began working to fill the hole.
When a fellow resident got word of an active train club in Hutchinson, Donna Grizzle, life enrichment director, jumped at the chance to get Ron involved. The two began attending the Kansas Central Model Railroaders monthly meetings at the clubhouse at 16 E. 3rd Ave. in Hutchinson near Dairy Queen.
Club members immediately brought Ron into the fold, Donna said. They are impressed with his collection of model train sets, especially the one made of brass, and are helping Ron get a broken set running again.
“They’ve embraced him, which is awesome because he needed that,” Donna said.
Jolene Demoret, secretary of the train club, said they are more than happy to have Ron as a member.
“He gets a chance to be around the other members that know trains and have worked with trains,” she said. “We’re glad he’s been able to attend the meetings and run his trains after the meetings.”
Ron is no longer able to drive, so Donna transports him to the meetings and any related special events.
One of those events took place the weekend of June 1-2, when the Kansas Central Model Railroaders held their fourth annual train expo at the Sunflower Building on the Kansas State Fairgrounds.
The Center of the Nation Model Train Exposition included displays of authentic train memorabilia and vendors from seven states selling train cars and accessories. The building was filled with model trains running on tracks through intricately-constructed scenes featuring miniature buildings, bridges and painted backdrops.
Donna said Ron helped sponsor the expo, and they attended the event on both days it was held.
“He intended to be there for as long as he could,” she said.
Ron has outlived all other family members and counts Sterling Presbyterian Manor staff and residents as his family.
Because of that, Donna said she’ll do whatever to give Ron a fulfilling life.
“We’re going to take a little extra care of him,” she said.