After a valiant twenty-year battle with multiple cancers, Ronald Peperak peacefully left the love of his life Julianne on April 13, 2023. He was eighty years old. Ron was born in house #73 in a small coal mining town called a “Patch”, in Buffington, PA. Instilled with a strong work ethic from a young age, he did whatever necessary for himself and his family to thrive. Dissatisfied with the status quo of his parents’ and grandparents’ life in the mines, Ron left Pennsylvania in pursuit of better things. The significance of Ron’s accomplishments is the embodiment of the American dream. He started life in a duplex owned by the local mining company, served his country, provided for his family, established three successful businesses and enjoyed the fruits of his labor in retirement.
He graduated from Uniontown High School and joined the Air Force. By distinguishing himself as a flight line firefighter at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, he was hand-selected for the dangerous off-base crash rescue missions before the official start Vietnam War. After his service, Ron and moved to Hollywood, California. He worked for Technicolor where he became the crew boss over the sound and color teams. His work using sepia tones on film was innovative at the time and was immortalized in the Academy Award winning film ‘The Godfather’.
Julianne and Ron met at a wedding in early 1967 when she was sixteen years old. They married in 1969 and their love affair spanned over fifty years. Ron and his wife started a family in California. Family circumstances required him to reluctantly return to his hometown in Pennsylvania and work in a coal mine for seven years. Seeing opportunity where most people do not, Ron single handedly renovated a simple bungalow into beautiful two story home facing a golf course. His perseverance enabled his family to move to Virginia Beach, VA with the means to establish three successful businesses including ‘The Pepper Pot’ in Pembroke Meadows Shopping Center, a popular sandwich shop beloved by many.
Once his sons, Chris and Matt enrolled in college Ron volunteered at the school PTAs where Julianne worked. He lent his muscle to several beautification projects for the Mayfarm Garden Club. Ron volunteered twice a week at Marion Manor Assisted Living facility for 10 years and taught the residents to make wine. Each year’s batch was lovingly named and served at the Manor’s holiday events. They entered their wine in an amateur wine contest and won a gold medal for their Scuppernong wine in 2002.
His wine making began simply using excess produce from his extensive vegetable garden in Pennsylvania. Using recipes from fellow miners, Ron’s Tomato wine and Potato champagne were two of his earliest products. His skill improved with sophisticated equipment and dedicated space. Travels to Europe only furthered his skill in wine making. Ron continued wine making for years until his gold medal win for a blend of Pinot Grigio and Fig in 2005. Ron’s other interests included gardening, Bonsai, woodworking, and duck decoy carving.
Ron was an active member of St. Nicholas Catholic Church, his parish in Virginia Beach for over thirty years, serving on several pastoral committees.
Ever the consummate storyteller, Ron would regale family and friends with tales of growing up in Appalachia, his time in the military, Hollywood, and as a restaurateur. Ron had a knack for making people laugh and finding humor in everyday occurrences. He wrote a book about his life experience in the early 1980’s. Although never published, it’s a family treasure.
Ron moved to the Villages in 2014 and enjoyed his retirement playing golf, and participating in the social activities in their Hillsborough neighborhood.
He was predeceased by his youngest son, Matthew and his parents John and Helen Peperak. He leaves behind his wife, Julianne, son Chris (Lynda) and granddaughter, Penelope. He will be greatly missed by family and friends.
A memorial Mass will be held on May 24 at St. Vincent de Paul Church, CR 462 Wildwood, FL at 11:30 AM with interment at Lone Oaks Cemetery 306 Thomas Ave., Leesburg, FL. A celebration of life reception will follow at Evans Prairie Country Club from 2:00-4:00 PM.