My good friend Ron Lerch passed away last night at the age of 80 years young. When I spoke to him last week, he was happy as a lark and full of life.
Ron and I met at Wendall Hammon’s new shop in Old Sacramento in 1974 or 1975, about the time I also met Ken Prag and Bob Greenwood in the same shop. Back then I was a budding young collector, mostly of stuff from my hometown area of Pasadena. It wasn’t until I moved to Nevada for my new job as an exploration geologist in 1976 that I started collecting Nevada.
Over the first few years of the mid-1970’s, Ron and I would see each other at various events around Sacramento. The paper collecting hobby was really just in its infancy, fed by John Howell, Bob Greenwood and Wendall. Wendall seized on the opportunity and created a book and paper show in Sacramento. This is where the world got to meet Ron Lerch and friends and experience his deep knowledge in western collecting. At the show, instead of splitting up the four paper guys – Ron, myself, friends Ken Harrison and Bob Greenwood, Wendall put us all together. It was a masterful move which kept us all close as friends and colleagues. As I recall, Ken Prag was also nearby, as were old friends Bill Berger and Jim Smalldon.
Ron was a staple at all the great western bottle shows since the 1970’s, setting up to trade, buy and sell tokens. He loved the collecting and the commraderie of the diverse interests of the collectors.
Ron and I became fast friends way back then, which continued forever. Whenever one of us needed info, we’d call. It was interesting that our two giant directory libraries were a compliment to each other – what I didn’t have, he did, and vice versa. We made great research friends.
Ron’s collecting passions crossed many, many collecting fields. I considered him an expert in a huge number of fields, especially western trade tokens.
He was a champion of men, a true gentleman, and a champion collector.
R I P