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Published: Tuesday, 1/20/2009

'Bahama Ron' owned Toledo tanning salon

Ronald Greer Hopkins, better known as "Bahama Ron" for the Westgate-area tanning salon he owned on Secor Road for about 15 years, died of congestive heart failure Sunday at his home in Springfield Township.

He was 76.

Known to tool around town in his red convertible with his beloved fox terrier, Katie, at his side, Mr. Hopkins was an affable gentleman who was described as "the life of the party" by his widow, Merlene "Judy" Hopkins and a daughter, Linda Nunn.

"He was a real party guy and liked to have fun. He laughed all the time," said his wife, whom he married 58 years ago this month. The couple's anniversary is Jan. 30.

"He was so outgoing," Ms. Nunn said. "He liked everybody."

But there was a tough side to Mr. Hopkins, too.

He was diagnosed with a heart problem several years ago. He underwent triple bypass surgery in 2000.

Then came lung cancer. After that, it was kidney cancer.

"It was just one thing after another," Ms. Hopkins said.

Mr. Hopkins was honored by Toledo police for meritorious service in 1978 for helping them capture two men who were believed to have been involved in at least 40 burglaries.

Five years later, Mr. Hopkins and two family members were falsely accused of starting a fire that resulted in $900,000 damage to a rural Tennessee motel.

A 1983 article quoted the presiding Tennessee judge, Gradey Crawley, as saying he released the trio because of a lack of evidence and numerous contradictory statements made by witnesses.

Mr. Hopkins described the ordeal back then as "a nightmare" that occurred on his way back to Toledo from Texas, where he and his wife had moved for a short time to be closer to their daughters and grandchildren.

Born March 4, 1932, Mr. Hopkins spent most of his life in Toledo.

He was a Conrail engineer for 20 years, retiring in 1983.

Prior to that, he served in the Army and the K-9 division of the Air Force, stationed in Korea and Japan. He also was a 32nd degree mason who belonged to Northern Light Lodge F & AM, Scottish Rite and Zenobia Shrine.

But he was best known as "Bahama Ron."

First, he founded the Acapulco Ron Tanning Salon on Heatherdowns Boulevard in the early 1980s. He and his wife sold it near the end of that decade.

He got back into the tanning business by opening the Bahama Ron Tanning Salon on Secor. He operated it until 2004.

Survivors include his wife, Merlene, better known by her nickname of Judy; daughters Linda Nunn and Vicki Hopkins; brother Gary Hopkins; sisters Hazel Szymanski and Nelma Burnard; five grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

A daughter, Janis Fortson, preceded him in death.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday in the Ansberg-West Funeral Home, 3000 Sylvania Ave. Visitation is from 4 to 8 p.m. today and 2 to 8 p.m. tomorrow.

The family requests that any tributes be made to Paws and Whiskers, a nonprofit shelter that helps find homes for cats.

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