09 JUL 2019: Forgive me if the details are a little sketchy, time will do that. It’s been many years since I last saw or talked to Ron Fiorelli, who died on July 5 in Oakville, Ont. at age 78 after a battle with cancer. Some years ago, Ron was a prominent PR professional with links to the travel industry via his tenure at Continental PIR and was central to one of my epic travel tales, and in an epic way.

It was about 27 or 28 years ago and one of my first press trips. To Greece. Current Travel Industry Today columnist Margaret Swaine was there, as was the legendary former Travelweek editor Pat Dineen. Ron was the group leader on behalf of the Greek National Tourism Organization. The story started with a small detail: when we arrived, a woman from the Athens tourist board asked to see our itinerary (as devised by the GNTO office in Toronto). After a quick look, she crumpled the document and sunk a Kawhi Leonard rim shot into a nearby trash bin, declaring, “Don’t worry, I’ll have proper one for you in the morning!”

So, off we went for an amazing week in Athens and environs, and then a cruise to the islands. Upon our return, half our group was heading home and we transferred directly from the cruise ship to the airport, only to find upon check-in that Olympic Airways had no record of our reservation. Even worse, they didn’t care, and pointedly ignored our pleas for help. Ron sprang into action, and, to make a long and harrowing story short, called in a favour and magically managed to find us seats – with no discernible delay – on a Canadian Airlines flight home via Rome.

After our return, the mystery of our missing Olympic seats was discovered: the macho GNTO boss in Toronto had learned of the crumpling and reorganizing of his itinerary by a woman and cancelled the group’s return tickets home in a retaliatory rage. As I recall, Ron vowed to never work with the GNTO again.

During subsequent years, Ron seemed to have less direct involvement with the travel trade but remained intermittently on the scene through his involvement with the German Wine Bureau. In particular, the German tourist board continually enlisted Ron to supply its famed annual Christmas lunch at Bistro 990 in Toronto, which was the most sought-after event of the season. Ron would be acknowledged with reverence by the equally revered GNTO Canadian chief, Ingrid Scherer-Mohr, and he would rise to thank the crowd in his gravelly whisper (he had had throat surgery which had robbed him of ability to speak loudly, though it seemed as if he never would have anyways), for their recognition of his always amazing wine choices. Afterwards, Ron and I would always catch up and remember our Greek adventure.

I’m not sure of the details of his career or life since those days, though online posts note that he left wife Judy, two sons and seven grandchildren and a great extended family. They will not be the only ones to remember Ron.

A celebration of life will be held for Ronald Fiorelli on July 27 at the Breakwater Inn in Port Credit, Ont., at 2 p.m.

FIORELLI, RONALD PAUL Born on July 21, 1941 peacefully passed on Friday, July 5, 2019 after a brave battle with cancer at the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital. Ron will be dearly missed by his beloved wife Judy, his sons Stephen (Susan Barcados) and Michael (Heather Hastings) and his 7 wonderful grandchildren: Taylor, Ethan, Bella, Paige, Alexa, Jason and Sophia. Predeceased by his mother Anne and his father Luciano, he will be sadly missed by his two younger brothers Norm and Rick, his nieces and nephews and many lifelong friends. Ron put family first, had a great sense of humor, and liked to be the life of the party, touching the hearts of many who knew him. Ron was a successful businessman in the field of public relations. He had a strong presence and passion for German Wines and was a hobbyist with the Oakville Community and involvement with the Town of Oakville where he let his voice be heard. Your legacy will live on Saint Renaldo! Family, friends and colleagues are invited to a Celebration of Life on Saturday, July 27th at 2 p.m. at the Breakwater Inn, 15 Stavebank Rd. S., Port Credit, L5G 2T2.

Published in the Toronto Star on July 8, 2019

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Michael Baginski

Editor at Large, Mike Baginski is well known and well respected within the industry across Canada, the US, in the Caribbean, Mexico and numerous other destinations outside North America.

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