Obituary: Ron Presby, Penn Museum director of service, 62

Ron Presby died Dec 12 after a battle with ALS. He was 62.

Presby’s husband, Bob Shuman, was inspired by some of Presby’s last words to him. Shuman said the couple had to deal with a few inconsistent caretakers after Presby was diagnosed with ALS. One of these individuals disappeared for a few days and then showed up for work with no explanation. Shuman was visibly angry with this person but Presby talked him down with two words: “Don’t fight.”

“That’s going to be my mantra whenever I feel anger or negative feelings coming up,” Shuman said. “I’m going to try to get in touch with what he said to me — not to fight with anybody and control my anger. That’s the way he was.”

Presby died surrounded by family and friends. Shuman said his husband was “polite and gentle,” which resulted in many “terrific” friendships. According to Shuman, some of Presby’s favorite moments with friends included humorous conversations over chocolate cupcakes with a pal named Gary, gourmet meals with his friend Burell and sharing glasses of wine with buddy Joe.

Shuman noted that Presby hired Joe for a job at the Kimmel Center. Hiring was one of his main responsibilitiesthroughout his career, which included the Philadelphia Museum of Art and, most recently, a job as director of service at Penn Museum.

“There were a lot of people who sent me messages on Facebook, telling me how grateful they are, how much they owe to Ron for hiring them and how much they loved him, respected him and how they always loved working with him,” Shuman said. “He was always the favorite captain to work with. He was very easygoing.”

Presby was also the favorite of a furry friend, a 9-year-old Maltese and Pomeranian mix named Sophie.

“He loved his little dog Sophie and when he passed, Sophie was laying on him for three hours and not moving,” Shuman said. “She followed him everywhere and would sit on his lap all day.”

Presby was also known for being artistic. Shuman said his husband created “gorgeous” mosaic paintings for their home. This included designs on furniture, bread boxes, breakfast trays, bowls, bureaus and other household items.

Additionally, family and friends would look forward to Presby’s gourmet meals every Christmas when the couple hosted a brunch for more than 50 people.

“People would come even if they weren’t invited, or if they didn’t get their invite the following year, they would call and ask if he was having a Christmas party because they knew how fabulous it was going to be,” Shuman said.

The couple met 38 years ago at a bar in Philadelphia. They dated for a while and parted ways. However, they reunited 18 years later when Presby recognized his future husband’s voice while overhearing a television broadcast of an interview for an “American Bandstand” 40th-anniversary celebration. Presby called Shuman’s parents’ home to speak with him. Later on, the two met for a drink.

“When our eyes met, we knew we were still in love,” Shuman told PGN shortly after their Aug. 4, 2015 wedding.

Presby also noted his feelings for Shuman in 2015.

“I wake up in the morning and think, I can’t believe I have a spouse now,” Presby said. “I get a little thrill when I wake up every morning.”

Throughout their entire relationship, Shuman said, the two never had a fight.

“He was just a gentle, sweet person and he sincerely loved me. So whatever I did for him in comparison is no comparison for what he has done for me.

“People keep saying that I took care of him. And in comparison, as difficult as it was with the ALS, he took care of me. He really spoiled me and loved me like I never have [experienced] before.”

Shuman said that while both of them worked a lot, neither of them disrespected the other’s space.

“He never put pressure on me and vice versa. He worked a lot of hours and I never put pressure on him because he loved what he did. We always had time allotted together where neither of us worked. We always took vacations. We made sure that we took time for the two of us, even if it was just going to the Borgata for two or three days.”

Shuman said others would often praise their relationship due to Presby’s caring nature.

“I wish that for everyone,” he said.

Presby is predeceased by mother Rose-Marie Byrne and brother Stanley. He is survived by his son Adam Presby; grandson Adam “AJ” Presby; sisters Michelle Presby and Sharon Przybyszewski-Huffert; brother-in-law Alan Shuman; sister-in-law Arlene Timons; niece Beth Ballentine and her husband, Steve; niece Sherri Wentzel and her husband, Jim; niece Mindy Segal; niece Rikki Bishop; many great-nieces and nephews; and several close friends.

Memorial contributions can be sent to the Greater Philadelphia ALS Association, 321 Norristown Road., Suite 260, Ambler, Pa. 19002.

A memorial will be held at noon. Jan. 8 at Penn Museum, 3260 South St. A reception will follow.