Ronald E.F. Hoskins
(October 1, 1949–June 19, 2020)
Born in West Chester, Pennsylvania in 1949, Ron Hoskins pursued a multitude of interests throughout his seventy years—he counted music, the service of God and others, and the JFK assassination among his many passions. About the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, he was more than passionate—he was obsessed. Referring to himself as a 'specific assassinologist,' he spent countless hours of his free time researching the assassination and the lives of President Kennedy, the Kennedy family, and anyone even remotely involved in the assassination or Kennedy administration. Ron had the ability to remember minute details about the assassination, and could talk at length about all aspects of it. He felt the need to preserve the history and artifacts associated with the event, resulting in one of the largest private collections of Kennedy and Kennedy assassination memorabilia. Many of the items are unique, even bordering on bizarre, which he really got a kick out of. His beloved cats were named 'Ruby' and 'Oswald.'
From an early age, Ron loved to sing and perform. Growing up he was a member of the Church choir at The Baptist Church of Wester Chester. He frequently told—with great detail and humor—of his his experience auditioning for Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour in Philadelphia at the age of six. He continued to follow his passion for music and performance through junior and senior high school, performing in concerts and plays. He was the soloist at his 1967 graduation from B. Reed Henderson High School, and sang 'Climb Every Mountain.'
Ron continued his education and attended Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, and H.B. Studio in New York. Ron converted to Roman Catholicism in 1970 and began studies for the priesthood in 1971. During his time at St. Charles, he did ministerial internships at Inglis House, Casa Del Catmen, and Holy Spirit Parish. He completed his deaconate at St. Francis de Sales Parish in West Philadelphia, and was one of twenty-one priests ordained by Cardinal John Krol in 1976.
Ron's ministry as a Catholic priest was expansive and inclusive. His assignments included Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in Northeast Philadelphia, where among other innovations he formed a choir which produced a recorded album entitled He Lives, on which Ron performed two solos. He also served the parishes of SS Simon and Jude in Westtown, PA, and St. Francis de Sales in Lenni, PA. In addition to his duties as a parish priest, he was a highly sought retreat master, homilist and spiritual director.
In 1988, Ron felt called by God to respond to the spiritual and practical needs of people living with HIV/AIDS. He sought the permission of the Cardinal of Philadelphia to pursue this ministry in addition to his work at St. Francis de Sales parish in Lenni, PA, and was denied. Ron made the courageous and difficult decision to leave the Philadelphia Archdiocese and relocated to New York City in order to provide ministry tote LGBT Catholic community there. He was the 1994 recipient of the New York Dignity Chapter's Charles Gormley Award and received several awards bestowed by Dignity/Philadelphia. Ron was the principle celebrant of the 25th Anniversary of Stonewall Mass at St. Bartholomew's Church on Park Avenue in 1994. He came to know and was a trusted friend of Father Mychal Judge, a chaplain to the New York City Fire Department who became the first official casualty of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks.
In 1994, Ron returned to Philadelphia to work at ActionAIDS, now Action Wellness, working tirelessly to build its 'Volunteer Buddy Program' into one of the largest in the country. He was passionate about the important role volunteers play in providing services to historically underserved communities. Building the volunteer staff to over 300+, he made a point of learning their names and stories.
Over the last several years, Ron struggled with declining health and decreasing mobility. Nonetheless, he went to work every day and maintained his sense of humor and charm until the very end. He never gave up his passion for his work or his commitment to his beloved volunteers. Ron was planning to retire from Action Wellness at the end of June 2020, and planned to write a book. Sadly, he passed before he had the opportunity to retire.