Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Ronald Oliver 'Ronnie' Surprenant

IRONWOOD, Mich. - Ronald Oliver "Ronnie" Surprenant, 92, of Ironwood, passed away on Pentecost, May 28, 2023. Ronnie was a well-known and respected business man in the community and owner of Ronnie's Camera and Sound in Ironwood.

Ronnie was born Aug. 16, 1930, to Oliver and Frances (Kutil) Surprenant in Ironwood. He attended Luther L. Wright High School and graduated in 1949. While attending high school, Ronnie was an accomplished athlete and involved in student government. He lettered in football, track and baseball. In his senior year playing football, he received All-Conference Honors First Team and All-Upper Peninsula Team Honorable Mention.

He was the Junior Class president, Student Council vice-president, school photographer and participated in many school clubs. Ronnie was elected into the National Athletic Honor Society and achieved the rank of 1st lieutenant in JROTC. His experiences in high school helped shape his future service in the military and professional career. He made many life-long friendships.

While going to school, he worked in the family business at the Ironwood Theatre. His father, Oliver, was a stockholder in the Ironwood Amusement Corporation and manager of the Ironwood Theatre. Oliver was instrumental in overseeing the building of the Ironwood Theatre. The Ironwood Amusement Corporation owned several theaters on the Gogebic Range. Ronnie's love of popcorn and movies was instilled at an early age while working at the theater.

While attending Gogebic Junior College, he began his career as a professional photographer working in a portrait studio. Ronnie graduated from GJC in 1951.

Ronnie was a veteran of the U.S. Army Infantry, achieving the rank of corporal E-4. He proudly served his country from Jan. 23, 1952 to Jan. 14, 1954. Following his training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, he was stationed in Giessen, Germany, during the Korean War.

He served with the 22nd Infantry Regiment in the Public Information Section. While stationed in Germany, he served as a regimental photographer until he was honorably discharged. His photographs were published in the military newspapers "Stars and Stripes" and "4th Division Ivy Leaves." Ronnie was the recipient of the Occupation Medal and National Defense Service Medal. He was a member of the American Legion for 69 years.

While stationed in Germany, he was able to travel to Paris, Holland and Rome. He was fortunate to see the Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica. Ronnie was able to travel to Milan, Italy, to view Leonardo da Vinci's painting of the Last Supper which had survived a bombing in August 1943.

Upon returning from the service, Ronnie worked in a portrait studio managing the photofinishing lab prior to starting his own business. On May 9, 1956, Ronnie's Camera Shop opened its doors to the public in the former Morgan Theatre on 114 S. Suffolk St. It was the first camera store to be located in downtown Ironwood.

Ronnie was the first dealer to introduce many of the following companies to Ironwood: AGFA, Bronica, Bushnell, Canon, Eastman Kodak, Fuji, Jamo, JBL, JVC, Hitachi, Minolta, Mamiya, Marantz, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Panasonic, Pioneer, Polaroid, Ricoh, Sony and Toshiba.

In 1973, the company changed its name to Ronnie's Camera and Sound and moved to 230 E. Aurora St. in Ironwood. Ronnie served as chairman of the Ironwood Retail Merchants Association in 1973. In 1979, he was appointed state director for the North Central Division of Photo Marketing Association (PMA). PMA is a worldwide professional trade association. He received recognition for outstanding sales achievement by the American Video Association in 1988-1989 and by Eastman Kodak Company in 1991. Ronnie was recognized by Colorcraft for outstanding sales in photo developing. He was also a member of the Small Business Association of Michigan.

During his professional career, he photographed weddings, wedding anniversaries, class reunions and family reunions. He even photographed third-generation weddings, as well as being fortunate enough to photograph 25th and 50th wedding anniversaries of past wedding couples. Ronnie's knowledge, commitment to personalized customer service and willingness to teach the art of photography left its impact on many people. Ronnie retired in 2016 after 60 years in business at the age of 86.

Ronnie was a member of Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church and the former Holy Trinity Catholic Church, both in Ironwood. He also attended mass at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hurley, Wisconsin. He was a devoted Catholic and you often found him saying his morning prayers each day. He faithfully attended first Friday Mass for many years. Praying the rosary before weekly Mass was something he did faithfully.

Ronnie was united in marriage to the love of his life, Marie Revoy, on Sept. 9, 1961, at Holy Trinity Catholic Church. In September, they would have celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary. We always joked that the Prom King married the Prom Queen. He was a devoted husband, father, son, brother, uncle, cousin and friend.

He is survived by his wife, Marie; and children, Jeffrey, Susie, Roberta and Mark (Carri), and one of the family, Maureen Buckland; sister-in-law, Patricia Rasmussen and sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Tess and Peter Upton; 12 nieces and nephews, Mark (MariAnne), Wayne (Brenda), Marcy (Gordy), Mary Jo, Paul (Diane), Tom (Mary), Dale (Pam), Donna (Mark), Michael (Jodi), Stephanie (Chris), Jessica (Tony) and Nathan (Tanya Sue); 20 great-nieces and nephews, Dan (Christee), Andy (Kerri), Nathan, Amy, Chris, Joey, Laura (Chris), Francesca (Justin), Felicia, Anthony (Rebecca), Anna Marie, Matthew, Martina, Derek (Rochelle), Kyle (Bethany), Samantha, Abigail, Brianna, Emery and Madilyn; and 11 great-great-nieces and nephews, Charlotte, Calista, Cecilia, Mac Rae, Davis, Isaiah, Jamieson, Kaila, Ryder, Grace and Nora; and many cousins and dear friends who are like family.

He was predeceased by his parents, Oliver and Frances (Kutil) Surprenant; his sisters and his brothers-in-law, Joanie (Steve) Buchko and Charlotte (Anthony) Kolesar; his father-in-law and mother-in-law, John and Marion Revoy; brother-in-law, David Rasmussen; sister-in-law, Barbara Fricke; brother-in-law, Ronald Fricke; nephew, Michael Buchko; his uncles, Leo Surprenant and Arthur Surprenant; and his close friend, George Nicholas, who was like a brother to Ronnie.

When Ronnie was younger, you could find him bowling, golfing, trap shooting or participating in the many games of volleyball at Chaney Lake. Ronnie was a devoted Green Bay Packers and Detroit Tigers fan. He had a passion for reading. He always looked forward to holidays, birthdays, picnics and special events spent with family and friends.

His smile, laugh and sense of humor were contagious. He always had a joke to tell. Ronnie was a sweet, kind and loving soul that impacted many people's lives in a positive way. He was a caring and sentimental person who loved his family and friends. We were blessed to have him in our lives for so many years. He has left a huge void in his entire family's lives, but we know that he is watching over us from heaven. We will always remember Nice, Nice, Nice!!!!

Cremation has taken place. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place Friday, Aug. 11, at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church at 11 a.m. with visitation to take place prior from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. A luncheon will follow at the church. Burial will take place at Sunset Acres Cemetery in Ironwood Township following the luncheon.

The family has chosen McKevitt-Patrick Funeral Home of Ironwood to honor the memory of Ronnie. You can leave condolences or a tribute at their website