One of those who made Ojai, Ojai, passes away

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Posted by Drew Mashburn on September 1, 2018

The following article first appeared in the April 11, 1973 edition of the Ojai Valley News. It is reprinted here with their permission.  The photo of Major Dron was added to this article by the Ojai Valley Museum.  

One of those who made Ojai, Ojai, passes away

(Editor’s note: Major John Anderson Dron of Ojai died April 5. The following memorial was written by his longtime friend, D. Ric Johnson.)

Another part of the old Ojai of 15 plus years ago and much larger bit of my life is gone. Major John Dron has left us.

Ours was an almost instant rapport, but that was pretty average for him. He made friends easily and enemies not so easily. He had many of the former and proportionately few of the latter. You couldn’t be neutral about him, though I’ve never known a person who was more tolerant in everything except for public chicanery and avarice. Crooked politicians, corporate greed, and Babbits were his avowed, unremitting, unrelenting and implacable enemies.

The county Board of Supervisors adjourned early Tuesday
in memory of the
late John Dron, Sr.

He was classic Scot with their passion for learning; an abstract thinker with a great pendulum swing from effervescence to melancholy. When being a dour Scot “sipped his sorrer wi a long spoon,” as he was wont to say.

He opened the door to, or sent me down, many roads whose names end in “ology” — archaeology, anthropology, geology — whetting my already active curiosity in ancient engineering techniques and avenues of the literary arts never before considered. How many times have I arrived at his door with face and spirits dragging 20 feet behind to leave later willing to try again the struggle out of my personal morass.

We adventured together on short jaunts up the mountains in that jeep that was to John as was the yellow horse to D’Artagnan. Long trips — as the one when we misjudged the weather, and his ancient down sleeping bag burst in the night and mine was inadequate. The long dreary hours of the night tolled away by his sepulchral, plaintive voice querying “and what is the hour now?”

Never was I happier to see a dawn, and we did as mad a dance as his years and my infirmities would permit, ’til the sun and our little fire thawed us to merriment over our just-passed misery.

The delightful evenings spent in front of the inevitable fireplace, the night raw outside, and John reeling off vastnesses of poetry or reading philosophy, Plutarch, Henry Adams, his own letters to the great personages and their replies.

His pixie look when contemplating the deflation of some over-blown ego. The pipe with one side of the bowl burned away that took at least a box of matches per filling and the finger burned black from tamping it. His depressions, when his voice would trail off into nothingness to be followed with sighs and great groans of Scottish spiritual torment, he brought to us for surcease and went away having received it, as I did so often with him.

He gave to me that which my own father could not. A camaraderie that asked nothing but gave, expected and received all. Oh, how exasperating he could be!

Anecdotes? Our whole 15 year association was one long, loving anecdote.

The valley is less warm and less home now.

****************************************************************************************************************************************

Major Dron was born in Ayr, Scotland, September 13, 1893, coming to Big Oak Flat, California in 1900 and spending his boyhood there. He attended Berkeley High School and classes at the University of California, Berkeley.

During World War I he served as a machine gun officer. In World War II he was a Captain and Major in the Corps of Engineers. During the 1920’s he became a civil engineer, working with the Nevada and California division of highways.

A resident of Ojai since 1929, he pursued a career as engineer and surveyor, serving as ex-officio engineer of the city of Ojai for many years. In 1938 he was WPA administrator for the county of Ventura.

Well known for his many and varied interests, he was active throughout his lifetime in civic affairs, serving as trustee to the Ojai Community Art Center and Ojai Civic Association. He was an expert on architecture of the Parthenon, and was often consulted for his intimate and detailed knowledge of the backcountry of the county. He will be remembered by many as the man who kept the Edison Company from putting giant electric poles across the valley mountains.

“The Major” is survived by his three children: John A. Dron, Jr., Mrs. Robert (Dorothy) Rail, and Boyd S. Dron, all of Ojai; a sister, Miss Gladys Dron of Berkeley; and six grandchildren.

Memorial services will be held Sunday, April 15 at 2 p.m. at the Ojai Community Art Center on S. Montgomery St. The family has requested that donations in memory be sent to the Art Center.

Major Dron in the Arcade

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Alena Dron September 6, 2018 at 12:54 pm

Thank you for reprinting this. I am one of John A. Dron’s grandchildren. One interesting Ojai visual that I enjoy is that he designed the image of the child reading that is on the Ojai Library Signs and was influential in all sorts of ways that make Ojai unique, like keeping out chains restaurants.

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