Ronald Chevis, affectionately known by many as “Paw Paw Ronnie,” passed away into God’s arms on November 19, 2019, at the age of 85, lovingly surrounded by his family. A lifelong New Orleans area resident, he was preceded in death by the love of his life, Joan Bienvenu Chevis, in 1986. Ronnie and Joan were devoted husband and wife and both true characters in the New Orleans tradition. They met in college, when both were active in local theatre and in radio; they were married in 1956 and raised three children – Clifford, Marcus, and Erin. At age 54, Joan was taken from him just as he was entering the later phase of his career, when time together for long-delayed travel and other shared experiences would have soon become a reality. Even though his life was rich with a loving extended family of children and grandchildren – which he constantly showed his love and appreciation for – Ronnie always missed Joan’s companionship, humor, and balance. After a 34-year separation across the realms, they are now reunited.
Ronnie was born in New Orleans on August 2, 1934. He was raised by a posse of uncles and his single mother Anna Finnin, who worked to provide for the family. Although Ronnie grew up without a father and had no example for how to perform the role, he somehow figured out how to be really good at it by the time he and Joan began their family in 1957.
Ronnie attended Redemptorist Grammar School in “the Channel,” St. Paul’s Boarding School “across the Lake,” and then Holy Cross High School in “the Parish.” He graduated from Loyola University, married Joan, and then while working nights at the FBI, attended Loyola Law School full-time during the day. He was awarded his Juris Doctor degree in 1960, equipped to pursue his dream career as an FBI Agent. But fate intervened, and shortly after the birth of their second son, it was discovered Joan had cancer. Given the care Joan required, and unable to relocate often as was the FBI norm back then, Ronnie continued his government service, with the Internal Revenue Service in New Orleans, in order to selflessly care for Joan and fund his children’s Catholic school educations. To help with this, many evenings he taught courses at Tulane Law School and also performed mortgage closings. Ronnie eventually retired from the IRS in 1989.
In addition to his full-time IRS career, Ronnie was also a reservist, serving in the National Guard beginning in 1952 and subsequently in the US Army Reserve JAG Corps 377th TAACOM. In 1987, he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. He very much enjoyed the camaraderie and the summer active duty exercises, as well as seeing his children experience surplus C-rations and military field manuals. After military retirement, he loved his frequent drives to the Algiers and Belle Chasse Naval bases with his children and grandchildren where shopping trips always ended with bowling, meals, and viewing aircraft.
Following his retirement, Ronnie spent his time helping family and friends in any way he could. He especially enjoyed nurturing his grandchildren, volunteering at their schools, and driving high school carpools. He was often found at Parkway Presbyterian Preschool and St. Philip Neri School and Church, where everyone knew and loved “Paw Paw Ronnie.” He served as an adopted grandfather to many, always participated actively in his Catholic faith, dispensed free legal advice, notary work, and, given his frugal nature and Scottish heritage, often cruised the aisles at BigLots! for sweet deals to share with everyone. However, his greatest contentment came from seeing his children and their families always care for each other and gather together for every occasion. He had much to say about the course of events and the human condition, was always curious about the nature of the universe, and had an intense interest in space exploration, which he passed down to his children. He was not shy dispensing compliments and critique; although not always obvious at first, there was always a loving, caring motive behind the words whose delivery sometimes got a little bit off track.
Ron was an active and founding parishioner of St. Edward the Confessor Parish where he served as lector, extraordinary minister of holy Communion, and Eucharistic Adorer, and frequent volunteer in his younger years. More recently, and due to his many ties there, he also worshipped at St. Philip Neri Church and was a recipient of the St. Philip Neri Outstanding Parish Adult Service Award given by the Archdiocese of New Orleans. He was a 60-year member of the Louisiana State Bar Association and the Washington Artillery Veterans Association.
He is survived by his devoted children, Clifford Joseph Chevis, Marcus Michael Chevis (Kay), and Erin Chevis Wright (Brett). He will forever watch over his grandchildren Gia Chevis Johnson (Jason), Kristen Chevis Brister (Brad), Jessica Nicole Chevis, Steven Michael Chevis, Allison Maria Chevis, Sophie Elizabeth Chevis, Ella Caroline Chevis, Madeline Joan Janney, Nicholas Ronald Wright, Gabriel Joseph Wright, and step-grandchildren Philip Robert Wright and Kalley Wright LeRoy (Jared). His long life was blessed with great-grandchildren Charlotte Rose Johnson, Samantha Ruby Johnson, Emmaline Rose Holbert, Braden Dylan Brister, Jackson Ryder Brister, Liberty Madison Brister, Ryleigh Rebel Brister, and step-great-grandchildren Brinley Adelle Dunigan and Sydney Marie LeRoy. This humble, faithful and hard-working servant of God and family will continue to be loved infinitely in death as he was in life and will be dearly missed by all.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial at Saint Philip Neri Church, 6500 Kawanee Ave, Metairie, LA, on Monday, November 25, 2019 at 12:30 P.M., with a visitation beginning at 10:30 A.M. Interment will follow in Greenwood Cemetery. Condolences may be offered at www.greenwoodfh.com
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