Ronald J. “Ron’ First

Published 2:02 pm Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Oct. 1, 1941-April 24, 2022

Ronald J. “Ron” First, Sr., 80, of Dowagiac, passed away on Sunday, April 24, 2022, at home. A Celebration of Life Time of Gathering will be held from 10 a.m. until noon on Friday, April 29, at Clark Chapel, 405 Center St., Dowagiac, MI. A private family burial will be held at a later time at Riverside Cemetery, Dowagiac.

As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be made to Dowagiac Union High School varsity baseball team, 701 W. Prairie Ronde St., Dowagiac, MI 49047. Those wishing to send a condolence or sign the guest book online may do so at

Ron was born on Oct. 1, 1941 in Benton Harbor, to Harry & Gertrude (Ziemke) First. He graduated from Eau Claire High School in 1959. On Sept. 5, 1959, he married the love of his life, Diane Fritz. The two were happily married for 58 years before her passing in 2017.

Ron began working in 1959 at Rudy’s, the local cavernous plant. A few years later he began machine operating copper tubing and running the large extrusion press. With his hard work ethic, Ron worked his way into upper management. He retired after over 45 years of working for National Copper Products. Ron enjoyed sports and school events, closely following his children and grandchildren through their years of participating. He loved being an assistant coach to his son’s baseball team while he was growing up and continued to help coach other little league, American Legion League and Dowagiac High School Team with Dean Hagen. In 1995, Ron would win the title of Assistant Coach of the Year Award. On Thursday nights, he would be down at Hampshire Golf Course with Bill Karris and the men’s golf league.

Most of all, Ron loved spending time with his family. Ron is survived by his children, Jody (Michael) Gantt and Jamie (Liz) First; grandchildren, Jeffery (Katelyn Whiteoak) Gantt, Carly (Kelsey O’Bee) Gantt, Samuel Gantt, Christopher (fiancé, Sierra Warlin) Gantt, Tyler (Robin) First and Tommy (Morgan) First; great-grandchildren, Cash Gantt, Cora Gantt, Tyler First, Jr., Lilly First, Irelynn First & Gracie First; and brother, Richard “Rick” First. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife; son, Jeffery First; siblings, Doug (Paula) First and Diane Schneider.