Ron Brown did not hesitate to make the 8-hour drive from Tucson to Simi Valley, to just be with me. Why? Because I was feeling very down, because Stephanie, my future wife, was not on the same timeline as I was, as it related to our relationship. I wanted to take it to the next level. She was still enjoying life as a Co-Ed in college. That is what a best friend will do. And Ron was indeed, my best friend.
I had moved from Tucson to Simi Valley in the middle of my Sophomore year of High School, a very troubling year socially. My father was transferred with his job, so it was not like I had a choice. It was hard. The one positive side of the move for my three sisters and I, was going from a flat, rock covered roof home in Arizona, to a two storied home almost like “The Brady Bunch,” a TV show we all watched together as a family each week.
Ron and I did everything together, partly because we were only one-month apart age-wise. Cub scouts. Church softball, and basketball. Ron was the point guard, and I was a much taller center/power forward. We went to dances for the first time together. We went through Boy Scouts together, at one time the only two Webelos in the group. We eventually even celebrated our Eagle Court of Honor together. It was held in the church hall at the end of January 1976. Ron always gave me a hard time because I was 13 at the time of the ceremony, and he was still 12. His birthday was two weeks later. There was more of an encouraging spirit for each other, rather than a competition.
We kept in touch and communicated as best as we could. I excelled in football, while Ron pursued basketball in HS. We graduated high school in June 1980. He from Catalina High (famous for having Linda Ronstadt as an alumni), and I from Royal High. We even served a two-year church mission in nearly the same place- the British Isles. I was in Coventry, England at the same time as Ron was in Edinburgh, Scotland.
After that, we both tackled University and careers. Ron would make road trips to the West Coast nearly every summer. Trips to the beach, Magic Mountain, Dodger games, double dating at every opportunity. We married our sweethearts in the same year. Ron was my Best Man, I was his. Ron had three children, as did I. Ron works for a law firm. I have owned businesses and now work for the Chamber of Commerce and sell insurance.
We have been there for each other when needed. He has had some health challenges and so have I. Now, we typically only talk to each other on our birthdays. He knows I will call him (When I call, I will ask to talk to Mr. Ron Brown. When asked who is calling, I will say, “Officer John Tolson from the IRS.” It always gets Ron coming onto the phone with a big laugh). Our calls always end the same: “Love you, Brother!” I will always be there for him and I know he will be there for me.
My life is such that I have a new ‘best friend’ now. It is a very special relationship. There is not anything I would not do for my best friend. Life is better with a best friend in your life. I know mine is!
John Tolson is the Director of Marketing and Membership for the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce, where he has been for 10 years. He also has an independent insurance business, where he is a Broker for many home and auto carriers. He has owned both a retail and wholesale business for over 18 years. Currently, he is also a Planning Commissioner for the City of Simi Valley. He can be reached at [email protected]