On Feb. 23, 2020, Col. Ronald Lord (USAF, retired) flew west into the sunset toward his final destination at the age of 83. Before leaving this world, he was surrounded by his family after a short, but very advanced, cancer diagnosis. Ronald grew up in the small town of Hudson, Mass where most boys his age dreamed of playing professional hockey. While he was a good stick on the ice and played semi-pro hockey, he dreamed of another type of stick – a jet fighter stick. As a young boy, he watched P-51s fly over his home in Marlborough, Mass. during training missions. He set his sights on becoming a pilot, completed flight school in 1958 and began his life-long journey as an Air Force fighter pilot.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Ronald met Georgia T. Archer (Cotsikas) and her daughter, Kimberly M. Archer. With missiles pointed at the United States, there was no time to waste. Within two weeks, they were engaged and married in April 1963. This instant family would grow to 3 more children – Shane, Cassandra and Tiffany – four grandsons and four great-grandchildren.
Ronald did not follow a traditional military career path. He took a cue from his favorite singer, Frank Sinatra, he did it Ron’s way. He constantly looked for assignments that offered adventure and new challenges. After flying F-100s and F-4E Phantoms in Japan, Italy, and Germany, he completed Army jump school (he never really liked jumping out of a perfectly good airplane) and flew with the Army to provide close air support. Rather than return to those long Air Force runways, Ronald requested an exchange tour with the Navy to fly F-8 Crusaders off the USS Bonne Homme Richard Aircraft Carrier during the Vietnam War. The Navy community welcomed and embraced his Air Force family as they waited for his return after extended deployments during a very difficult time in American history.
After the ubiquitous Washington, D.C. tour in the Pentagon, working with foreign governments in Israel, Iran, and Japan, he sought out a new adventure. During the Cold War, Ronald served as the Air Attaché in Bonn Germany, where he and Georgia worked alongside allied nations and Ambassadors in a military-diplomatic role, followed by another four years in the Netherlands as the Chief of Staff for the Director of Operations and Intelligence. Though he retired from the USAF, his desire to fly and see the world did not abate. Ronald began a civilian career working in the defense industry and flying towing targets for gunnery aircraft (crazy yes) in the United States, Japan, and Europe. As Ron always said, “My life has been a whole lotta get shot at.”
In 1996, Goodyear, Arizona became his new home. The warm weather, desert palms, and friendly growing community were just what he needed after many decades living in the cold climates on the East Coast, Europe, and Asia. It is here that Ronald could play tennis as often as he wished, continue flying to support the Civil Air Patrol and even join the Goodyear police as a volunteer. His newly found friends loved his unending enthusiasm and boyish charm as he got to know the community. He was also known as the Goodyear’s First Dude when he accompanied Georgia in her responsibilities as mayor of Goodyear. Whether visiting his favorite sweet shop for a brownie and a doughnut or stopping by the Sprint phone store for a quick lesson in smartphones, he was loved for his humor, Hey Tiger greetings and joyful Hooha! as he met someone or learned something new. He will be missed by all. Fly Safe Ronald Lord.
Ronald is survived by his wife, Goodyear Mayor Georgia T. Lord, Kimberly Lord Stewart, Shane J. Lord, Cassandra L Lord, Tiffany Lord Arnaldo, four grandsons, and four great-grandchildren. A celebration of life with military honors will be held at a later time, check with funeral home for details. Donations may be made in lieu of flowers to Military Officers Association of America, scholarship fund, Luke AFB chapter, in honor of Col. Ronald H Lord (USAF retired) Luke MOAA, PO Box 5072, SCW, AZ 85376. Condolences for the family may be left below.