reaffirms his faith in God.
On Aug. 18, 2012, Ronnie made his usual trek home, stopping for a beer at Kastaways Bar & Grill on Powder Springs Street in Marietta. Ronnie said the bartender, Susan Hanger, whose husband recently had a heart attack, looked at him and said, “Ronnie you don’t look good. Your color is off. You ought to go to the Emergency Room and get checked out.”
Although Ronnie insisted nothing was wrong, someone called 911. “The next thing I knew here comes the fire truck pulling up, EMTs and all. The paramedic came charging in over there,” he said.
Shortly after, an ambulance crew turned up urging Ronnie to the Emergency Room. Although an EKG administered by the ambulance crew showed nothing wrong, his wife Nita arrived and insisted that Ronnie go to the ER.
“The last thing I remember was getting out of her car and walking into the Emergency Room, registering, sitting in a wheelchair and them rolling me back. I didn’t know another thing for eight days,” Ronnie said.
“Where I was really lucky was that the cardiac team had just finished a surgery that had run over and was all there. They jumped right on me,” he said.
Ronnie suffered a heart attack described by his doctors to him as a “widow-maker” heart attack requiring two bypasses. He said he died twice on the operating table and was in a drug-induced coma for two weeks.
“I am convinced I met Jesus or my maker during that time,” Ronnie said.
Ronnie described what he saw. “Next thing I knew all of a sudden I was sitting in a chair looking at a man on an elevated platform about 8 or 10 inches high. He was wearing what looked like black velvet pants, white dress shirt and bow tie and white sport coat. He had shoulder-length, sandy blonde hair. But his face was a complete blur,” Ronnie said. “It happened this fast.”
He described a conversation he had with the figure. “He said, ‘Ronnie I’m not through with you yet. I still have things for you to do. You’re going back,’” Ronnie recalled. “That’s when I think I met Jesus or my maker, one. I think he still has things for me to do.”
The meeting affirmed Ronnie’s faith. “I damn sure believe in God and I’m still certain, back when I woke up, since then I was good here at least 10 more years no matter what happens. That’s just the feeling I got from it,” said Ronnie, who has lived in Marietta since he was 3 years old. He graduated from Marietta High School in 1962 and practiced law in Marietta for 42 years.
This incident was not Ronnie’s first brush with death. At age 19, he was making his first solo flight from McCollum Airport to Athens. It was a sunny July day, then Ronnie encountered an unexpected thunderstorm.
“It grabbed that plane and turned it every which way but loose. The plane was in a spin headed straight to the ground. I tried everything I could to get hold of that plane but nothing worked,” he said.
When the plane dipped below 500 feet, Ronnie thought his time had come. “I just let go of everything put my hands over my eyes and said, ‘God, here I come.’ I stayed like that for what seemed like an eternity. When I moved my hands that plane was up at about 5,000 feet flying straight and level, as pretty as you please and I had absolutely nothing to do with it. That was the first time I became a true believer,” Ronnie said.
“I should have been dead. There’s no way I should have lived without divine intervention,” Ronnie said.
“(My maker) wanted to keep me alive for some reason. That’s what I say about the last experience and that’s what I say about this experience. I believe my maker has been watching over me all my life. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve it,” he said.
“The devil won’t have (me) and the good Lord won’t put up with me yet,” Ronnie said.