Ronald Alan DeWitte
Ronald Alan DeWitte died Feb. 16, 2018, of pancreatic cancer. Ron was diagnosed with this disease in May of 2014, and fought courageously and without ceasing, inspiring all who knew and loved him.
Ron is survived by his wife, Lynne Rothrock of Cedar Rapids; daughter, Jody Jensen (Scott) of Cedar Rapids; son, Michael DeWitte of Long Grove, Iowa; brothers, Craig (Cedar Rapids) and Rick (Scottsdale, Ariz.); grandchildren, Nolan and Evyn DeWitte of Cedar Rapids; and former wives, Jeanie Russo Young and Chris Krumbholtz. He was preceded in death by his parents.
Ron was born in Cedar Rapids on July 29, 1949, to Bernard and Cleo DeWitte. He spent the first years of his life growing up on a farm near Vinton, and moved into the city when he was in fifth grade. From a very early age, Ron knew that he wanted to play the guitar. He was introduced to guitar music through early television shows, and enjoyed listening to transistor radios under his pillow at night. His parents purchased him a guitar and he took lessons at Boddicker's School of Music.
Ron graduated from Jefferson High School in Cedar Rapids, but, while still in school, he began his professional music career. He was often on the road with bands playing at ballrooms and clubs around the Midwest. He played with many bands, including The Tremelos, American Legends, Wheatstraw, Headstone, Linn County Band, Bob Dorr's Blue Band, The Blues Crew, The Swingin' Doors and others.
Ron was a mainstay of the Midwest music scene for over 50 years. He was inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame and is a four-time inductee into the Iowa Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. Ron also played for the Follies, Theatre Cedar Rapids, SPT Theatre, Divapalooza and Bluesmore, and headlined his own show with Blues Hall of Fame members. He also worked at West Music Co. for 19 years.
In 2005, Ron married vocalist Lynne Rothrock and they began a great musical collaboration. Together, they performed many concerts at the Opus Concert Cafe, The Giving Tree Theatre, their annual Christmas Cabaret, and venues in Des Moines, Minneapolis and Nashville. They recently shared the stage with Vince Gill and the Time Jumpers, as well as Michael Feinstein. Together, they worked as headline entertainers for Holland America Cruise Lines, and had the opportunity to travel to Hawaii, Australia, the Caribbean, Mexico, Iceland, India, South America and South Africa.
In spite of all the travel opportunities, Ron was happiest in his cozy home with his beloved maltipoos, Maggie and Lindy, who preceded him in death but are undoubtedly by his side now. He was enormously proud of his children and grandchildren, and loved nothing more than spending time with family and friends drinking beer around a fire. Ron was an incredibly gifted musician, yet remained very humble. He was respected and loved by his fellow musicians and was known for being an incredibly soulful player with an especially beautiful tone. Every note seemed to come directly from his heart. Ron was very grateful to all the musicians he worked with over the years, as these relationships helped weave the fabric of his life. He also was grateful (and a bit surprised) at the countless fans who supported him by coming out to hear him play in a variety of venues.
Ron spent the last four years of his life dealing with the treatments for pancreatic cancer. He faced each, often torturous, step with an unfailing desire to keep living. His tremendous courage and desire to keep fighting were nothing short of heroic. During this time, he received the gift of being embraced with love, prayers, kindness and generosity from so many people, and was amazed and humbled by this. Ron's family expresses their gratitude to all who helped along this journey and shared their love and appreciation for Ron and his music. His life was a gift and a blessing to all who knew him.
A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
Ron's family would like to extend their thanks to the health care providers at Hall Perrine Cancer Center, Mercy Hospice and, especially, to Dr. James Howe at UIHC.
Memorials may be directed to Ron's wife, Lynne Rothrock, with plans to honor his love of music and animals in the future.