Inverness family, bereaved, receives deluge of support

David Briggs
 A tamale fundraiser for 4-year-old Ezequiel Powell, who is battling late-stage cancer, cooked up 1,850 tamales that sold out quickly after advance sales began.

A memorial service for Roneil Laverne Powell, who passed away unexpectedly at the age of 43 earlier this month, drew hundreds to the Dance Palace on Saturday.

The church space filled quickly, so the crowd spilled into the lobby, huddled under tents or braved the rainy weather to remember the Inverness resident. Some knew Ron from nearby, or from his days at Dominican University, where he first met his wife, Alex Porrata, or from his work as a data recovery engineer in Novato; others came from farther away, from his birthplace in a rough neighborhood in Los Angeles and from New Zealand, where he played professional basketball.

Ron’s mother expressed amazement, saying she didn’t know her son had touched so many people, a friend of the family, Elisabeth Ptak, said.

“Ron was an amazing person and friend,” Billy Borda, a close friend, said. “He saw the good in everyone and that is what he brought out of them.”

Ron’s 6-year-old daughter, Yolanda, said even if her father hadn’t passed away, she would have wanted the memorial to happen anyway, just to see how many people loved her father.

One person was noticeably absent: Ron’s son, Ezequiel, was at home with a nurse. He was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

The community has gathered to support the family with multiple ongoing fundraisers ahead.

Five Brooks Ranch and The Station House Café will host an event on Feb. 23, with pony rides and a light brunch. Morning Glory Confections is donating a quarter of its sales from the month, and local farms and ranches are sponsoring “EZ Pound of Ground,” which will donate all of the proceeds from one-pound packs of ground beef and turkey for $20.