Local memorial set for Middletown Community Foundation founder

The founding executive director of the Middletown Community Foundation and Miriam G. Knoll Charitable Foundation will be memorialized for his life and impact on the community in two ceremonies next month.

MORE: ‘Mr. Middletown Community Foundation’ dies

A memorial service for Roland P. "Ron" Ely Jr. will start at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 1 at First Presbyterian Church in Middletown, followed by a reception at the church. The service is being organized by his family.

At 1:30 p.m., Miami University Middletown will unveil a memorial bench, located behind the Campus and Community Center, in his honor. The ceremony will feature remarks from Interim Dean Cathy Bishop-Clark, Miriam G. Knoll Charitable Foundation Grants Committee Member Bill Schaefer, Middletown Community Foundation Executive Director T. Duane Gordon and Ely’s daughter, Andrea Carrington.

Ely, who died in Michigan in February, served as a U.S. Navy JAG officer before moving to Middletown in the 1970s and becoming head of the trust department at First National Bank. That role led him to volunteer his time to lead the effort of spinning off the Middletown Community Foundation from the Middletown United Way in 1986, including serving two years in 1987 and 1988 as the Foundation's Board of Trustees president and volunteer executive director until the first paid staff member was hired in 1989.

“First as a voting trustee and later as a trustee emeritus, I don’t believe Ron missed a single Community Foundation Board meeting in our first 25 years of existence,” Gordon said. “This organization was his ‘baby,’ and he always wanted to keep a close eye on how it was developing. And in the 30 years since he led the effort to set us up as a stand-alone foundation, the Middletown Community Foundation has given back well over $40 million to our community, largely thanks to Ron’s early efforts.”

He was also instrumental in helping local philanthropist Miriam G. Knoll establish a private foundation in her name, serving on its grantmaking committee from its 1987 creation until he stepped down in 2013, also working as its part-time executive director for most of those years as well, Gordon said. Over that time, the Knoll Foundation has likewise contributed millions of dollars in grants to the greater Middletown area.

The family has requested that memorial contributions be made to the Middletown Community Foundation.