Ron Sidell Obituary
Ron Sidell – beloved husband, son, brother, uncle, and friend – died Monday, February 25 from complications due to pneumonia. Ron was a good man known for his curious and brilliant mind, his generous heart, his sense of humor, and his deep fascination and appreciation for the natural world – stars, plants, reptiles, rocks, and especially dogs and cats. He was also a sci-fi buff, a fan of the Grateful Dead, the Warriors and 49ers, and a passionate advocate for a free internet. But his wife Helen always came first.
A true mensch, Ron loved and enjoyed life and bore its suffering with grace and ingenuity. In 2001 he contracted Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), which left him with a variety of health issues that ultimately claimed his life at age 59. Ron’s response to his own losses was to serve others. He and his wife of 29 years, Helen Nichols, founded the non-profit Ophoenix, and he spent the last years of his life adapting technology to enhance disabled persons’ access to the wider world.
Ron was born in Cleveland, grew up in Walnut Creek, earned a BA in applied math at UCSD, and was Director of Computer Operations at Genentech until he contracted GBS. He and his wife lived on the Peninsula for many years and settled in Novato in 2011 to be closer to family – Susan, Avery, Logan, Kanjana, Emily, Natalie, Madison, Lona, and Lukas Stewart; Trevor Hickey and Caitriona Olson.
Ron is also survived by his parents, Shirley and Dr. Sheldon Sidell of Seattle and his brothers Michael and David. Both families are grateful to his faithful caregiver Va Loto’hahea for her love and devotion to Ron during the last 16 years of his life.
Family and friends will gather for a celebration of Ron’s life in Novato on March 9. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Valley Medical Center (VMC) Foundation of San Jose in Ron’s name.