Ronn Reinberg, R.I.P.

The Santa Cruz community is struggling with the death of Ronn Reinberg, a central figure in theater in this town who touched many so many lives in so many arenas. Ronn died on Sunday, Jan. 10, after suffering a sudden rupture in his aorta.

If you knew Ronn, please contribute your thoughts here, or at a site set up in honor at

A memorial dinner will take place at WEST theater in Santa Cruz on Sunday, Jan. 17 at 3 p.m. Here’s our obituary, published Wednesday.

31 thoughts on “Ronn Reinberg, R.I.P.

  1. Ronn was a smart, generous, honorable, principled, and talented man. Much of my professional career in arts management and technology has been side by side with him, or directly due to him. It is no hyperbole to say that many local arts organizations owe a huge debt of gratitude to him. He provided professional level assistance for fees that a struggling artist could afford, because he believed the work was important. He often created beautiful lighting designs with mediocre equipment, insufficient time, and no budget; often for young or inexperienced performers who needed their hands held every step of the way.

    Ronn was easy to remember. Everything about him was the result of a conscious decision about how he wanted to live his life. He had his own look, his own wardrobe, even his own lunch. Most folks in town have seen his three-wheeled electric truck buzzing around, even if they didn’t know the driver. In stage work, people enter and leave your professional life all the time. Some people stick in your mind; most don’t. Today I spoke to a number of “old timers” who worked with him in the 80’s and 90’s, maybe for just one show. They all remembered him well, and had a great anecdote to prove it.

    He’ll be missed for what he did and for who he was, and I consider that mighty high praise.
    We were lucky to have him.

  2. Such sad news, I just saw Ronn downtown last week. Even though we worked on the lighting for Cabrillo Dance shows thirty years ago, he always had a ready smile and hello when we’d run into each other after all this time.
    I thought the colors of the sunset were particularly beautiful this evening, maybe he’s working his magic up there.

  3. It is unbelievable to think we won’t have Ronn in SC. He has been woven into so many of our works and lives….Thank you Ronn for all you have given to me to and to us all.

    He was in my Oral History Class at UCSC this fall and one of the questions the students were to ask the ‘elders’ was what do you cherish most? Without hesitating Ronn said…”every breath”… the student felt forever changed by this acknowledgment of the wonder and sacredness of each moment –and of the things we take for granted.

    Here is to cherishing every breath… and every friend… and the one and only Ronn.

  4. Rest In Peace Ronn, . As we look to the sky and see your light shine down on us, know you’ll be missed not only for your talent but for being a great human being.

  5. Memorial Services for Ronn will be held on 1/17/09 at West End Studio, 402 Ingalls St, Santa Cruz at 3 p.m. Please bring remembrances, good wishes and your presence with any gesture, word or object. The service is open to anyone who knew or wanted to know Ronn.

  6. So sad to hear of Ronn’s passing. One poignant memory I have of him was of working on a show at The Attic in 2005. I designed a set that had to be hung from the rafters, 25 feet up. After some discussion and coordination with him, he just pointed me to the ladder and said I’m done with it. It’s your turn. Well, I think I had hoped he would help but he didn’t and I, while silently cursing myself for designing such an impractical set overcame my fear of that ladder and somehow managed to hang the set by myself. Looking back, this seems typical of how he often pushed people to break their own barriers through thoughtful suggestions or bluntly pointing an obvious truth one didn’t want to see. I’ll miss Ronn and his sense of community and for his inspiration and as a friend

  7. How true the comments of Sven, Tandy and the others. Ronn went away from Santa Cruz for a number of years and I was so glad to see him return to us, the theatre community that he literally infused himself in. His aura was so good. His talents so understated and so willingly shared. His presence was a literal blessing to those of us who play in the arts. He never let any of us down. Some will not be able to attend his memorial service but I, for one, will keep feeling Ronn’s energy every time I make a new set, or hang a light, or make a wish upon a star.

  8. Ronn was my boyfriend in college when we were at UCLA. He stuck with me through many tragedies that happened to me and my family. I will always love him for being there for me. We lost touch over the years but mutual friends kept me updated. His mom was a wonderful woman who taught him well to be the caring man he was. He will be greatly missed.

  9. I didn’t know Ronn very well but I do remember running in to him and sharing conversations many times over the past 30 years or so. He was also a lawyer in a previous life and when I was getting a divorce many years ago, I asked him for some legal advise.
    I remember seeing him up on ladders happily adjusting lights at theaters all over the county. He always seemed like a very cool guy that loved his creative projects.
    The last time I saw Ronn was at the intersection of River and Laurel Streets. We were passing by each other in our vehicles. I immediately noticed that he was driving an all-electric one which impressed me because EVs are my current passion.
    Ronn was an inspiration to me. He exemplified an alternative-lifestyle/right livelihood spirit that many of us have shared in our beloved Santa Cruz for a number of decades.
    To Ronn I say, carry on Bro. In your absence, one way or another, we’ll keep pointing the lights on the inspiring people and beautiful nature of this great place.
    Justin Mayer

  10. On behalf of Esperanza del Valle, Mexican Folkloric Dance Company, I send our condolences to Ronn’s family and friends. We have worked with Ronn over the past 30 years and have been privileged to perform on stage illuminated by his ingenious talent. He goes above and beyond the call of duty, attending rehearsals, sharing his expertise and warm heart. We have truly lost an important member of our company’s technical family.

    We love you Ronn and will miss your creative talents and what you have so generously added to our lives.

  11. This comes as a sad surprise. The last time I spoke with Ron was on Pacific Ave. He crossed the street to tell me that he’d be interested in lighting my next show: The Rubaiyat.
    Ron lit the last show that I driected: Piney Ridge, a drama that was selected for 8 tens at 8. He came up with lots of lighting ideas that not only enhanced the story but helped get the emotional impact across. He will be missed. A great guy to work with; a guy who whose work was in lights. May his work continue to light his way.

  12. Ronn was an artist of a technician. He was my friend. Although I would go long periods without seeing him, when we got together we always picked up where we left off and worked and laughed together. I miss you already.

  13. Whether you spent 5 minutes or 5 decades with Ronn, your life changed dramatically from the experience. Every moment a new discovery. Thank you, my friend, for your ever present charisma, your love and your patience… especially for your patience with those of us who may not have received it from anyone else, yet for some reason (and you ALWAYS had your reasons), got it from you.
    I will miss you in my life, AND I am grateful and honored to have been a student, a colleague, a friend.

  14. I will always cherish the moments I had with Ronn. He would listen to my ideas, feed my excitement and lead me to greater possibilities without a negative comment. The sparkle in his eyes was pure joy. He will be missed.

  15. When I first went to work at the Mello Center, people whispered out of the sides of their mouths – “You gotta call Ronn Reinberg.” After a couple of performances at the Mello Center, I knew I had to call someone with technical theatre expertise, so I called Ronn Reinberg. He answered on the second ring. I identified myself. He said, “I’ve been waiting for your call.” We met – I thought I had known him for years – and I hired him immediately to do any and all things technical in the new and somewhat unfinished Mello Center. His positive contribution to that facility during the years he worked with us cannot be measured. In addition to his extraordinary knowledge of theatrical lighting, sound, and theatre in general, he was an amazing teacher and had the patience of Job with young people who were interested but had no background. He loved his world and lived to share it. He admired the creative work of the artists whose performances he supported and did his utmost to illuminate them in his most professional and creative way.
    I am sorry to see him go so soon. I’m glad he left a trail.

  16. Ronn’s passing was so sudden and unbelievable, I still can’t accept it. I remember the last time I saw him at the Downtown Farmer’s Market a couple of weeks ago and we chatted. He was always good for a lovingly wry smile (framed by his generous whiskers), a curious and usually humorous social reflection, and a flash of genius in his dancing blue eyes. We were discussing tech stuff (namely sound checks) and he said he loved it when someone would say something really silly into a mic, like, “more of me in the mains!”. We both laughed, shifted our produce bags, and hugged goodbye. I walked away feeling “light” on my feet… and with a song in my heart. That was Ronn.

  17. I struggle for words as I suffer the loss of such a tremendous and kind heart, such a dear friend, revered mentor, trusted co-conspirator and comrade in arts.
    How does one acknowledge the countless hours that turned into too few years of work and laughter and creativity and play and experiment that was treasured time with Ronn?
    Ronn’s spirit, kindness and generosity were imbued in everything he did and went deep, deeper even than his penetrating gaze.
    Omnipresent and always willing to help, inspire, and analyze, Ronn could bring the improbable dream to measurable, achievable form and breathe spirit and arch humor to the tedious and trying. Knowing he was there was knowing success was possible. Our confidence in him was a reflection of his ability to wrest the best from ourselves.
    Thoughtful in life, art and work, and blurring the distinctions between (if ever there were any), I reflect so often on his guidance, inspiration and companionship, as well as his frustrating exactitude, practicality and ability to be right way too often. His criticisms; measured, important, and accurate, were always balanced with encouragement and great enthusiasm.
    His boundless energy, kindness and keen insight lit the way for so many of us for so many years.
    His lights have illuminated a thousand stages and, more importantly,
    HIS LIGHT has brightened innumerable lives, my own not the least.
    For all that you have done for me and so many of those that I love,
    thank you Ronn from the bottom of my heart.
    -Tom Adams

  18. Ronn will be truly missed. Ronn was talented, gifted, skilled, passionate and a true supporter of the Arts. Working with Ron was inspiring. He would take our dances and with his lighting designs, he would transport them into another dimension. A true gift. Though I left Santa Cruz 17 years ago, if I would run into Ronn he would take the time to talk as if time hadn’t passed. That was Ronn – he would stop and take time to welcome a friend. The world has lost a great talent that will be cherished and missed. It’s hard to believe that a person who lived with such vitality is gone. We miss you Ronn and you will always be remembered.

  19. I had the great fortune of working with Ronn on numerous dance/theater productions in the late 80’s and the 90’s. He was an exceptional lighting designer and a passionate, positive and active member of the arts community. I loved his quick wit, his keen intelligence, and his honesty. Ronn worked eagerly with both established professionals and budding newcomers, sharing his expertise and vision with all. On a personal note, Ronn was a great supporter of my creative work. His feedback was invaluable. Many years ago, when he managed the Cabrillo stage, we had dancers had an ongoing joke. We wanted to make t-shirts that said: “Ronn is Godd”. Because his skills and knowledge were god-like, and he spelled his name with two n’s. We will all miss him!

  20. Sitting with the news of Ronn’s passing has left me so sad. Our community has lost a special man, and I have lost a very sweet friend.
    Over the past 30 years Ronn has touched my life in so many ways – I will hold tight to those memories.

    Ronn made life seem fun – hard work, but fun! He was all about commitment and contentment. I envied his light-hearted approach to life.

    Ronn generously volunteered his time on so many projects I organized – if he was able to fit it into his calendar, I knew we were set. To have Ronn on your team was the best you could ask for.

    And Ronn’s genuine interest in my own life, my family and my work, was always appreciated. He cared deeply for his friends!

    I will miss our silly conversations, especially those that touched on our Jewishness. We enjoyed that connection. At my annual Chanukah parties, Ronn proudly held the record of “Biggest Latke Eater”. He was the first to arrive and the last to leave. And then I’d send him home with another plate full for later.
    The parties have stopped, but every Chanukah season Ronn checked in just to make sure.

    I know that Ronn’s journey most certainly will include deep green pastures, glimmering mountain streams, a warm sun, and loving energy.

  21. I worked with Ronn only a couple of times, but he also generously gave me helpful technical advice on several occasions. I will miss his presence which was so kind, clear, creative and effective.

  22. Ronn Reinberg was my friend. Tea brought us together. Tea was our last interaction. I will honor his memory with tea. Tea as liquid love.

  23. Ronn lit up my life when he was the lighting director in the first local theatre production I did in the 2007 Eight Tens @ Eight. He was very kind in his feedback about that performance and left an indelible impression on me. His consciousness about life strikes a chord with me and I will carry him in my heart. Bon Voyage, Ronn.

  24. Ronn’s smile, his hello and embrace when our paths crossed, his nod and twinkle of acknowledgement for our long lasting friendship …will be greatly missed. How grand to have a earth walk where shedding light in areas of darkness is your gift. He was authentic and empacted many of our lives. The world was uplifted by his presence. Thank you Ronn for a life well danced.

  25. Ronn, I want to say thank you for opening up your home to my family for the Wednesday potlucks. We have been coming for over a year now and will continue. You always were loyal and stood fast in your support of us being there, of supporting our community. I was sure of your deep love for Rivera and you gave your all to her. You served us tea, and you protected the space for it. I remember your greetings were generous and sparkly.
    I know how committed you were to your spiritual path and it is obvious some part of you knew the future because only recently you doubled your efforts to mediating twice daily. I am so proud of you for doing that. We didn’t get our chance to dive into lives secrets together but our hearts bonded through Rivera and we kept our harmony that way. You are free now and your love is boundless!

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