Ronald Owen Daigh, 59, of Idyllwild, passed away peacefully at home Sunday night, Dec. 14, 2008, with his wife Sandii and her long-time friend Deborah Warren at his side.
Ron was born Sept. 26, 1949, in Torrance, and was raised in Redondo Beach.
During his childhood in the 1950s and 1960s, Ron enjoyed boat trips to Catalina with his parents and brother. During his teens he developed an interest in short-wave radio, music and electronics. Neighbors began bringing over their non-working TV sets to the Daigh household so Ron could take them apart and repair them. His interest in electronics and technology led him down that career path as an adult.
After graduating from Redondo Beach High in 1967 and Long Beach State in 1971 with an electronics engineering degree, Ron lived in Seal Beach for a year where he enjoyed his musical hobby of playing bluegrass guitar. He then went to work for several companies in Southern California as a manufacturing engineer and manager. He worked at Xerox, Printronix, Emulex, ICL and QSC Audio, all in Orange County.
In the early 1980s, Ron moved to Lake Elsinore with his first wife and stepdaughter. After divorcing in 1986, Ron met his second wife of 19 years, Sandii Castleberry, while buying an airline ticket at the Orange County Airport. Sandii was the airline agent who waited on him. After realizing they both had a deep interest in music, the two began dating and were married in November 1989.
Ron and Sandii made their home in Irvine and Tustin until they moved to Idyllwild in 2004. Together, they performed music throughout the Southland, Sandii on the guitar and Ron on the banjo. While living in Orange County, their band, “The Acoustic Renovators,” played popular songs in a bluegrass style for many years, and hosted a cable TV show of the same name. After performing at several birthday parties for their nieces, “Uncle Ron and Aunt Sandii” began performing professionally for children at libraries, community events and parties.
Camping also was a favorite pastime for the Daighs. The two enjoyed camping in their trailer at bluegrass festivals, Southern California beaches, and in Idyllwild. The camping trips to Idyllwild connected Ron and Sandii to the community more intimately, and soon they became part-timers with a rented cabin while maintaining their home in Orange County.
After selling their home in North Tustin, they moved to Idyllwild full-time in 2004. Ron went to work at Idyllwild Arts as assistant manager of the I.T. department. He was a friendly, positive person with a great sense of humor who always cared about others. Ron’s upbeat attitude made him popular with his co-workers and friends alike.
After a 25-year remission from melanoma cancer, the disease returned metastatically in 2007. Ron’s positive attitude, continuous sense of humor and strength helped him persevere through several surgeries, a clinical trial at UCLA, radiation and chemotherapy. Ron enjoyed an eight-month stable disease interval, which allowed him and Sandii a trip to Oregon, visits to the desert, and local performances on the banjo, including the children’s stage at the Stage Coach Country Music Festival in Coachella in May 2008.
Over the summer, complications arose requiring further treatment. In September 2008, Ron decided it was time to come home and live the rest of his life peacefully surrounded by his wife and Idyllwild family.
Ron is survived by his wife Sandii of Idyllwild; mother Frances of San Pedro; brother Gary of Redondo Beach; four nieces, Sara and Stacy Daigh and Mackenzie and Callan Smith of California; and cousins in California, Colorado and New Mexico.
A celebration of Ron’s life is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 3, at Bowman Hall, with a memorial fund-raiser at Nelson Dining Hall, both located on the Idyllwild Arts campus. Proceeds from the event will go to Ron Daigh’s Music Foundation, which will finance software and computers for the Idyllwild Arts Music Department. Those who cannot attend but would like to make a contribution in Ron’s name may send their check payable to Idyllwild Arts Foundation, P.O. Box 38, Idyllwild, CA 92549. Note “Ron Daigh’s Music Foundation” in the memo section of the check.