At Home With...

Ron Dick, Partner & Senior Architect, Design Collaborative
Feb 2, 2024
Heather Herron
Tim Brumbeloe

Everywhere Ron Dick looks around his new home, there are reminders of his wife. Happily married for 32 years, he and Joni raised three children, volunteered for local nonprofits, enjoyed traveling together and shared a passion for art. There’s one piece that’s particularly special.

“I have a gallery wall upstairs,” says Ron. “She loved to sketch one-eyed ladies, and she had a special digital drawing she produced. She worked on it for around two years, and if you look at it closely, she put her initial in the eyeball and hid all the kids’ and grandkids’ initials in the flowers.” 

Their last house project was one Joni never got to see completed. After living on the north side of Fort Wayne for three decades, they became enamored with the West Central neighborhood, purchased a home there and began to renovate it.

“This place is awesome, but it’s bittersweet because we planned it together,” he says. “In February of 2022, she developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and the doctors said it was curable, so they started hitting her with chemo really hard, really fast. In May, they declared her to be in remission. July 13 was her last scheduled day for chemo, and on July 12 I came home and found her asleep in the backyard. It was a terrible gut punch.”

Ron continued to work on their house, incorporating Joni’s ideas and artwork, and creating a home she would have loved. He moved into the home in February of 2023. “There are all kinds of her touches in this place – it’s really special. Even until her last day, she was involved in planning this. This was going to be our future and now it’s my future. I’m filling it with family and friends. Oh, and I have a great dog and two of her cats.”

While he cherishes the moments they shared and focuses on happy memories, Ron is also looking forward to what’s ahead. He stays busy at Design Collaborative, a local architectural and engineering firm. He and two partners founded it more than 30 years ago, never expecting it to grow into what it is today. 

“I think our business plan was, ‘Let’s grow to 20 to 25 employees and keep it right there. That’s a good size; a manageable size.’ But we blew that away and now we have 80 great people,” says Ron. 

The firm has been involved in projects all over the Fort Wayne community and the Midwest, designing buildings for clients in education, health care, workplace and a variety of community projects. Ron, who earned a degree in architecture from Ball State University, is still very involved in the projects and with clients on a day-to-day basis.

“I love going into the office on the weekends and putting some time in when nobody else is around. I still love to sketch. I’m not a computer guy, so I still sketch and draw,” he explains. “This is one of those kinds of jobs where it really is my hobby. I love working with people and solving their design problems.”

Though he doesn’t have any immediate plans to slow down, Ron does hope to travel more this year – something he hasn’t done much of since Joni’s passing. He and his children, Hayli, Anna and Adam, have a big trip planned this coming summer. 

“All three kids will get a one-on-one week with me anywhere in the world, and they all picked the European vicinity. Anna and I are flying to Dublin for 5-6 days and then we are going to Amsterdam. Hayli flies in and we overlap for a couple days. Anna will fly home, and Hayli and I fly to Italy for 5-6 days, then to Barcelona. Adam flies to Barcelona and Hayli flies home, then Adam and I go to London. He’s a big soccer fan so we’re going to go to a Chelsea F.C. game, and then will spend a couple days in Germany,” Ron says excitedly. 

He also plans to revisit some old hobbies; setting aside more time to paint and draw, to perhaps finally become proficient at playing the trumpet, and to spend time with his granddaughters, who are seven and five. He’d also love to rent a big beach house somewhere and take the whole family on vacation. They often get together at Ron’s lake home and relax on the pontoon boat, ride jet skis or paddle their kayaks. 

It’s the simple things, he says, that bring him joy: His family and friends, his dog Nellie, and the giant porch on his home in the West Central neighborhood. 

“I’ve been very blessed with some great memories; I’ll carry them with me forever. Life is precious and life goes on, and I’m working hard at making more memories every day.” 

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