The saddle is prominently displayed in the foyer of his Palos Verdes Estates home. While he sold the ranch in the 1980s, he still calls the 10-year experience of running 3,000 cows every summer with his family "one of the greatest" of his life.
The wide open spaces of the ranch are a far cry from the pastoral suburb of Los Angeles in which he and his wife, Elaine now live full time, but he is still helping to chart new frontiers right in his own backyard. The Florances recently joined the Patrons program to help Torrance Memorial forge its own course toward the future-construction of the new Patient Tower.
"After health events involving our own family, we really began to take notice of this tremendous health resource right in our own community," said Elaine. "The hospital has a great atmosphere of caring. You don't feel as if you are just a number."
Ron continued, "We really wanted to get involved and do our part. Having a world class medical facility is a great selling point for any neighborhood. Good schools, good government and good hospitals-those are the key ingredients for success."
Ron knows a little something about the ingredients for building a successful community. As a two-term Palos Verdes Estates city council member in the early 1980s, he worked with fellow council members to convince residents to pass a temporary property tax to fund storm drain repairs in compliance with Los Angeles County standards. The city was on the verge of bankruptcy due to a pending lawsuit following the loss of a home on Bluff Cove during a landslide. He and the council worked to successfully transfer the system and any future liability to the L.A. County jurisdiction.
During that same decade, Ron was also the principal developer and owner, along with partner Ernest Hahn, of the Norris Theater and the shopping center now called The Promenade on the Peninsula. Originally called The Courtyard at Palos Verdes, the mall has gone through several names and appearance transformations over the past three decades. Ron sold the development in the early 1990s, but then repurchased it a few years later. He helped transform it from an enclosed, indoor mall, to the roofless, outdoor shopping center of today.
It was during that conversion that Ron experienced his own life-changing event. He was diagnosed with colon cancer after a routine colonoscopy. Hecredits Norman Panitch, M.D., gastroenterology, with saving his life. "At that time doctors were just starting to perform colonoscopies and people were very resistant to having the procedure done. Dr. Panitch was really on a mission to get people to have them with the goal of wiping out colon cancer."
Born in Los Angeles, Ron spent his adolescence in Fairbanks, Ala., where his father made training films for the U.S. Air Force. He returned to Southern California in high school and then attended UCLA to study business and finance. Ron met Elaine at UCLA. After college the two married and settled not far from Elaine's childhood home in Palos Verdes. Because there was also no high school in PV at the time she grew up, she attended Redondo Union High School.
Ron believes his experience in Alaska seeded his love for the great outdoors and impelled the Florances to guide their three sons and daughter toward outdoor pursuits such as Scouting as they grew up in Palos Verdes Estates and spent summers on the Nevada Ranch.
The Florances have a deep history of South Bay community involvement, ranging from Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the PTA, the Peninsula Committee for the LA Philharmonic, and the National Charity League, a mother/daughter organization dedicated to community service. They are also long-time members of St. Peters By the Sea. However, it was the "exceptional care" Elaine's mother received during and following a recent hip operation at Torrance Memorial which prompted them to turn their attention toward contributing to the future of local health care.
"You never know when you or a loved one is going to need medical care," Ron said. "It's a cause that's as close to our hearts as it is to our home."
"The hospital has a great atmosphere of caring. You don't feel as if you are just a number."