Ronan Winter, the Irishman living in California whose plight as he died from throat cancer led to a massive crowdfunding effort that raised over $100,000 in two days, has died.
He died on Saturday, May 10 with his family by his side.
Winter, originally from Dublin and a former student at Blackrock College, was diagnosed six months ago with stage four cancer. He had moved to California in 1989.
As a result of Ronan's illness, the Winter family has wiped out its savings – including college funds for his daughters Keelan and Keara – to pay for his medical expenses.
Winter's niece Courtney Russell began an online fundraising campaign a few days ago to help the family with the mounting medical bills, explaining: "The girls' college funds are drained, their savings gone. Uncle Ronan was the breadwinner.”
The response was incredible.
Paying tribute to her uncle on gofundme, Courtney wrote:
“Originally from Ireland, my uncle moved to the States, gained citizenship and eventually married my aunt. Even after all these years, he's still got the cool accent. He has an insatiable zest for life, he wanted to see the world and he wanted to see it with his family,” she wrote.
Following his death his wife Diane penned a beautiful note of farewell to her husband:
"On Saturday, May 10, 2014 we spent the day listening to music, talking about the past and dreaming of the future. We held hands, my husband and I. I told him I loved him and stroked his hair. I sat silently and contemplated our life together. The funny times with our beautiful girls, the joyous times spent with family and friends, and the many ups and the few downs of our marriage. I whispered words of comfort in his ear and put a cool cloth on his forehead. I recounted some stories and smiled as if it was yesterday. Then, I came back to the moment, to the bedroom, to the hospital bed holding my husband, and cried. And then cried some more.
“He was not responding. No reassuring hug, or even a reassuring look, he was slipping into the active stage of dying and so he wouldn't wake. I knew this. I also knew this was our day, and that he could hear me still. I continued talking with him and loving him. As the evening wore on, I left the room for a moment and when I walked back in, my soul mate, the love of my life, Ronan, passed away gently in his sleep. I was calm and knew he would want it that way.
May your journey be swift and smooth honey, and as you always say
"May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.."
I love you, always and forever.
Here's a video made by a friend of Ronan's daughter that prompted the fundraising: