Message from Ron’s wife
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - December 30, 2015 - 9:00am

Last Tuesday morning, legendary coach Ron Jacobs’ remains were interred in a crypt at the Sanctuario de San Antonio Church grounds in Forbes Park after a two-day wake that brought together some of Philippine basketball’s greatest names.

Fr. Baltazar Obiko presided in the prayers before the interment witnessed by Ron’s Filipino wife Mennen, her daughter Shandy (who flew in from France where she works as a chef in a two-star Michelin restaurant) and her sister Tina Eddun Valenzuela. During the two-day wake, the visitors included TNT head coach and Ron’s long-time assistant Joseph Uichico, Allan Caidic, Danny Ildefonso, Danny Seigle, Olsen Racela (his mother came in a wheelchair to pay her respects), Meralco coach Norman Black, Juno Sauler, Siot Tanquingcen, Art de la Cruz, Freddie Abuda, Dondon Hontiveros, Binky Favis, D’jalma Arnedo, Dominic Uy, Jojo Quiambao, Alvin Avendano, Bobby and Nimfa Eduardo, Tony Lu, Ronnie Nathanielsz, Chit Pineda and Charlie Cojuangco.

For 14 years, Ron was bedridden after suffering a stroke while driving his car with his wife and Shandy as passengers on the way to dinner at the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel on Dec. 23, 2001. That fateful day, Ron had lunch with the late Rep. Henry Cojuangco, Uichico and Caidic at the Le Souffle Restaurant on Ortigas in a pre-Christmas get-together with their wives. Ron had just been named national coach for the 2002 Busan Asian Games and Mennen said he was looking forward to his “last hurrah.” Uichico and Caidic would’ve been in his coaching staff. As it turned out, Uichico took over from Jacobs and brought the Philippines to fourth place, missing out on the bronze medal via a buzzer-beating triple from Lee Sang Min in the playoff game against South Korea.

Mennen never left Ron’s side throughout his ordeal. She never spent a night away from Ron and made sure he was taken care of. Ron’s hair was regularly shampooed and dyed. He was provided nutrition, 24-hour care and therapy. Ron never developed bed sores. For 14 years, Mennen led the prayer brigade for Ron. There were many instances where Ron was rushed to the hospital in critical condition but time and again, he pulled through, giving hope to Mennen and his friends that someday, he would recover.

The night before Ron passed away, Mennen said she had a dream where the coach told her it was time to go. It had been three months since doctors said he could leave any day with his condition taking a turn for the worst. On the morning of his death, Mennen said she whispered to Ron that he could go if he wanted to, that he shouldn’t worry about leaving her behind, because his parents and friends were waiting in heaven. Mennen said she never broke the news of the late Rep. Henry Cojuangco’s death to Ron because it would’ve broken his heart. “Boss Henry and Joseph were his closest friends and they always found time to visit, to say hi to Ron, to check on his condition and to make sure everything was okay,” she said. “But that morning, I told Ron that Boss Henry had passed away.”

Mennen said she was touched by the display of love that Ron’s friends showed in visiting his wake.  “Ron touched the lives of so many people,” she said. “He was a wonderful man who gave so much of himself to others.” She said she phoned Ron’s brother Rick in Los Angeles to break the news and asked that he inform Ron’s only child Heidi. In the US, San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Chip Engelland, one of Ron’s protégés, reached out to express his sympathies.

On the second day of Ron’s wake, Mennen delivered this touching message to the visitors. She asked if her message could be published to thank everyone who has condoled in her grief. Here is Mennen’s message:

“To my family and friends, it is heart-warming to see each and every one of you here tonight. Needless to say, I see Ron everywhere. I guess we all carry a piece of him because of how he has touched our lives. Thank you so much. Debilitating as it was, a most unfortunate life-changing event took place in coach Ron Jacobs’ life 14 years ago and up to the last day he took it with grace, hope and perseverance.

“Ron, for me, was an incredible man and it is difficult to put into words how much he meant to me and how much I will miss him. There isn’t a word that comes to mind except Thank You All. Thank you for remembering, for the visits, for the prayers and for the support during the times he needed it the most. I assure you it made him happy. It made him proud and most importantly, he felt alive.

“On behalf of my daughter Shandy, I thank you all. May I just especially mention the following people: Jong Uichico, for being present all throughout. My family who was a great support system for me, the Valenzuela family, Tina, my baby sister, I love you. My angels Abetina, Tigie, Aric and Rikki. Ms. Josie Cang, you’ve been a great help and I thank you. My crazy and fun-filled Karilagan friends, you don’t know how much you kept me sane.

“To Mr. Robert Non of San Miguel Corp. To Ms. Camille Buenaventura of the San Miguel Corp. Foundation. A very special mention to San Miguel Corp. chairman Mr. Danding Cojuangco, his son Charlie who was present throughout the wake, Mr. Ramon Ang and the late Mr. Henry Cojuangco for showing us all that ‘No Friend Is Left Behind.’ Yes, that is what you did for Ron, you never left him behind and we are forever grateful. Thank you so much. You have all been there solidly for coach Ron.

“We saw how the magic and healing power of Friendship and Family, too, – their real value in our lives. For 14 years, he battled silently, pretty much the opposite of how he handled his career as a sports person all throughout his active life. On the 24th of December, 2015, he decided to shout: ‘Game over, lights out.’ To my beloved, it’s time for me to say goodbye. I will miss you and I will always love you. Rest in peace.” Ron would’ve turned 73 last Sunday.

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