Ukrainian Collectibles Society(Toronto)
Leafing through my trident album with each stamp in its place, I come to realize how much I will miss the greatest über-collector of tridents, our own Ron Zelonka. Dr. Ronald A. Zelonka passed away peacefully with his family at his side on Friday, October 26, 2007. This tragic and untimely loss to the international Ukrainian philatelic community will be felt far and wide. Ron was a long time member of UPNS #334, the Ukrainian Collectibles Society (Toronto), and known to many collectors and dealers from every continent.
Ron was a quiet man with many friends ranging from fellow university graduates, his work colleagues, and his Ukrainian stamp collecting friends. Ron graduated from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario with a Science degree in 1969 and a PhD in Chemistry in 1972. He recently retired as Vice-President, Technology and Innovation, DuPont Canada Inc. where he pursued his passion for science and innovation, aimed at improving people's lives, not only in Canada, but globally.
Ron brought the disciplines he lived with in everyday life, his family, and his career to collecting. His interests in Ukrainian collectibles covered many areas: trident overprints, Western Ukraine, medals, postcards, paper money, DP postage, postal history, as well as, Star Trek figurines. Of all his collecting passions, he is best known for his love of the trident overprint and medals. His expertise in tridents was eagerly sought after and he was more than willing to share his in-depth knowledge and encouraged his fellow philatelists to discover this specialized area. Few have had the privilege to admire his fabulous collection and be overcome with the feeling that they were looking at something one of a kind.
Ron’s wife Pat fondly remembers the day in the early 70’s when Ron decided to sell part of his BNA stamp collection to purchase some fieldpostcards for $300, a princely sum for those days, especially for newlyweds. This was Ron’s introduction to Ukrainian philately. He reasoned naively that for a country like Ukraine, with such a brief history of independence in 1918-20, it would be possible to acquire one of everything that was ever issued or mailed. Ron continued his lifelong quest to find that one rare overprint or that elusive cover that no one had ever seen before.
In 2006, Ron’s philatelic interests cumulated in accreditation as UPNS Expertiser of Trident Overprints. He was a contributor to the Ukrainian Philatelist Journal. Whenever his busy schedule permitted, he attended the Society’s annual Zustriches. At UKRAINPEX 2007 Ron and his son Ben won Gold for their Military Operations in Western Ukraine 1914-1920 exhibit, the last of many medals won in philatelic exhibitions. Everything Ron did was driven by his personal goals, his pursuit of excellence. He expected nothing less from his friends who on many occasions were persuaded to take that difficult extra step towards self improvement.
We will miss Ron at our Monday club meetings. As well, we will miss him as Exhibition Chairman for our UKRAINPEX exhibitions, his albums of trading material, his laugh, his sense of humor. And I will miss Ron and the occasional visit to his home to talk shop. I got my first introduction to Ukrainian philately at Capex 1986 by unknowingly purchasing from a dealer a number of Ron’s stock books. Many a stamp in my trident album is from those stock books. Ron, May the Tridents Always be with you!
President, Ukrainian Collectibles Society (Toronto)