BYRON – Ronald Ray McMillan, 73, Byron, died Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at OSF St. Anthony Medical Center, Rockford. Born on May 23, 1948, in Cynthiana, Kentucky, the son of Mary Frances and Charles McMillan Jr.
Ron attended school through the eighth grade while helping on the family farm and completed his high school education through the Job Corps, where he worked in many projects, including restoration of the Hensley Settlement in the Appalachian Mountains. The Job Corps brought him to Belvidere, IL in 1967 where he worked at Chrysler. He also worked at MGD Graphics, where he met his long time companion, Penny Gentzel. He did body work and painted vehicles and motorcycles at Strandquist and Kegel’s. Ron’s many years as an over-the-road truck driver took him on adventures across the United States, with routes to New York City, California, Louisiana, and many places in between. During the last several years, when his health no longer allowed him to drive his semi, he spent his time doing body work, painting vehicles, and enjoying time with friends and family. He was passionate about his Fords and Harleys.
Ron truly lived life during his 73 years and enjoyed the experience of whatever he did. He spent time boating on the Mississippi River and on Geneva Lake when he owned his boat and took more than one trip on his motorcycle to Sturgis. Ron was a good cook and loved food. Ron and Penny often took road trips in search of good restaurants all around the area and became well-known at a few of their regular stops.
Ron’s most cherished moments were spent being Grandpa and he loved to tell people all about the grandkids. He proudly cheered on the Stillman Valley and Byron football teams when the Alberts boys played. The grandchildren held a special place in his heart, and he was well-loved by them in return. Time spent with the family was important and always ended with a hug and an “I love you” from Ron.
Ron never met a stranger. His genuine interest in people and his love of sharing a story created friendships wherever he went. He spent many hours on the phone talking to his daughters, brother, other family, and friends near and far when he wasn’t able to visit in person. Those he has left behind will miss his stories even though they have been told many times. He was loved and will be missed by many.
Predeceased by his parents; infant son, Ronnie Jr.; brother and sister-in-law, Gary and Diane McMillan; and many close friends.
Ron is survived by his daughters, Heather McMillan, San Diego, Calif.; Tamie (Mark) Ball, Ridgecrest, Calif.; grandson, Skylor (Christina) McGee, Calif.; brother and sister-in-law, Steve and Sherrie McMillan, Ky.; sister Vickie Brisbon, Ky.; numerous nieces and nephews, including Caitlyn, Sarah, Jason (Sarah), Christopher and others; several great-nieces and nephews; companion of 38 years, Penny Gentzel, Byron, and her family, whom he loved as if they were his own – children: Brad (Beth Clark) Alberts, Stillman Valley, Brent (Jen) Alberts, Byron, Beth (Jeff) Palmer, Rockford; grandchildren: Logan (Maddie Bayliss) Alberts, Rockford, Sydney and Skylar Alberts Stillman Valley, Zak and Alexa Alberts, Byron, Rowan (John) Logan, Rockford, and Reese Palmer, Milwaukee, WI; great-grandchild: Harrison Logan; several close friends.
Cremation rites accorded. No services at this time based on Ron’s wishes. A celebration of life will be held at a later date. To leave condolences or share a memory, visit Christensen Funeral Home at www.rockfordfunerals.com.