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Chattanooga Mourns the Passing of "Brother Ron"

Brother Ron Fender passed away on January 29th. Image used with permission from Jeffrey Ellis

Chattanooga has lost an advocate for those who rarely had a voice in the city.

St. Paul's Episcopal church says Ron Fender, a monk affectionately known as "Brother Ron," passed away on January 29th at the age of 61.

Fender has been in Chattanooga since 2002, and had been a tireless advocate for the homeless, serving as an outreach case manager for the Chattanooga Community Kitchen.

He made the Bible passage of John 13:1-17 a central part of his mission. In that passage, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. In addition to washing the feet of the homeless, Fender also made sure that they had proper and adequate footwear to brave the elements, hot or cold.

On Tuesday, the Chattanooga Theatre Centre(CTC) held a memorial service for Fender. Attendees were asked to bring socks and shoes to donate in Fender's honor.

Friends, co-workers, and mentees took to the microphone telling story after story about a man with an endless amount of love and compassion.

"He was a big part of our lives," said Kim Jackson. "All in different ways."

Brother Ron acted in and directed several CTC productions. When he passed away, he was in the middle of directing "Sordid Lives."

Jerry Draper says for each show Brother Ron directed, he would hold a social event for the cast.

"It was actually scheduled for tonight. We're going ahead with the social. And he called it a 'funeral food social' because the play that we're doing is about a funeral," said Draper.

A memorial service will be observed at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Chattanooga, on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 2 p.m.

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