October 7, 2021, fgfBooks.com — Ronald N. Neff, a close ally of Joe Sobran’s, managing editor of Sobran’s newsletter, long-time editor for the publications of the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation – and my friend –died last week. An obit written by his loyal wife of 40 years, Susan Neff, can be read here.
Ronn, as his friends called him, had a brilliant mind, and a superb command of the language which he used to help writers and authors, including Joe Sobran and most recently Harley Price, make their work error free and elegant. He did not just proofread or copy edit. He would thoroughly go over his client’s work, checking the most minute details for accuracy.
We worked together for 13 years when Griffin Communications was publishing Sobran’s: The Real News of the Month (1994-2007). Joe Sobran rarely, if ever, needed help with syntax or grammar. But because the brilliant Sobran would sometimes quote passages from memory, Ronn was there to ensure their accuracy. It is a testament to not only to Joe but also to Ronn that the monthly Sobran’s newsletter was such an exquisite journal.
Ronn’s command of the English language, and knowledge of classic works, grammar, and syntax was unsurpassed. In his last project for the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, in reviewing the manuscript of Harley Price’s Give Speech A Chance (soon to be available at fgfBooks.com), Ronn found a citation that he thought was inaccurate. The citation had been transcribed from the Internet. Ronn ordered a book that has the original quotation — and sure enough, Ronn was right: the citation on the Internet was incorrect.
As Jacob Hornberger noted in his obit, Ronn had “a wide breadth of knowledge in history, philosophy, religion, and many other subjects.” This is an understatement.
But Ronn was not totally a book worm. Proud of his Midwestern roots (he grew up in Indiana), Ronn was a delightful dinner companion and guest, and an accomplished speaker. He was an eloquent spokesman for FGF Books at the 2016 Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation’s press briefing on the republishing of Sobran’s Hustler: The Clinton Legacy at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Ronn was a devout Catholic. He believed in the frequent reception of the sacrament of Penance, and staying in the state of grace.
He was so well-schooled in Christian controversies that he was able to unravel for Scott Hahn a major roadblock which had been preventing him from becoming a Catholic. It was because of Ronn’s solving Dr. Hahn’s last problem with Catholicism that he knew that he had to become a Catholic -- and did. Dr. Scott Hahn is now considered a major Catholic apologist, in part to Ronn’s influence.
Fast forward to Ronn’s lengthy hospitalization this year: because of tyrannical Covid restrictions, I was not able to see him as much as I would like (in fact a guard was summoned to throw me out of a subacute hospital in D.C. when I tried to sneak into his room). But the times I was able to be with him are memorable. A few weeks ago, knowing that I was coming, he greeted me with these words on his legal pad (as he had difficulty speaking through the trach): “Status of Harley book?” I updated him, told his wife, Sue, to kiss him (he nodded in full agreement with that), and then I held his hand for a moment. He indicated that he wanted me to kiss him. I responded, “I didn’t even know that you liked me!” He got a big chuckle out of that.
All through his life, Ronn understood that this earth is only a temporary dwelling and that our focus should be on the next life. He was well-prepared to meet his Maker. Eternal rest grant unto Ronn, O Lord, May perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.
P.S. Ronn: I wish you were here to proofread this for me.
P.P.S. Here are some other links of note:
Washington Post death notice
"Ronald N. Neff, Rest in Peace” by Tom McPherren; and “The Moral Libertarian by Paul Michelson”
A funeral Liturgy for Ronald Neff was held at Epiphany of Our Lord Byzantine Catholic Church in Annandale, Virginia, on October 9. He was buried that day at Andrew Chapel Cemetery in Vienna, Virginia.
Copyright @ 2021 by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation and Fran Griffin.
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