(This story will continue to be updated)
NASHVILLE, Ohio — Two things stand out the most when Brianna Cooper-Risser, 26, thinks about her uncle Ron Kandel — his sense of humor and his love for his family.
On Oct. 25, 2017, Kandel, 50, died from injuries sustained in a farming accident. But his legacy of love and devotion to God and his family is what stands out most to the people who knew him best.
Together, Ron and his wife, Julie, have 15 children — eight of them adopted and four currently fostered by the Kandel family. Cooper-Risser said fostering and adopting children is a great thing but requires a lot of work and “they just kept doing it.”
“They’ve invited more kids into their lives and created a family for those kids that couldn’t have that,” she said. She said the love and compassion Ron and Julie show to their family and the community is inspirational.
“My dad was a Christian and just loved God and people,” said Britney Kandel, 24, of her father.
Ron grew up on beef farm in Orrville, Ohio, where he raised dairy feeders with his family. When he married Julie Alexander, he became a partner of Hyland Acres Jerseys LTD, alongside Julie’s father, Larry Alexander, and two other partners. Hyland Acres milks close to 500 head of registered Jersey cows.
“My Dad was involved with the animals some, but he loved the field work and mechanics the most,” said Britney. Her father did a lot of custom farming for friends and neighbors as well as working ground on the family operation, and serving as the farm mechanic was one of his favorite jobs.
Ron had been called to the farm to help fix a piece of tillage equipment the morning of Oct. 22. According to a report from the Holmes County Sheriff’s office, a pin on a disc had broken while a farmhand was using the equipment in the field.
Ron had instructed the worker to unfold the wings of the disc so that he could get in between them to fix the pin. After opening the wings, the tractor was shut off and the hydraulics valve was closed, but while Ron was working, the wings started to close, pinching Ron between the wing and middle of the disc.
Ron instructed the farmhand to turn the tractor back on and open the wings, allowing Ron to drop to the ground and roll away from the machine, but the damage had been done.
Ron died in the hospital three days after battling internal injuries sustained from being trapped by the disc.
“Growing up, we always enjoyed helping on the farm,” Britney said of her siblings. “But he never wanted to make us feel pressured to stay on the farm.” She added her father wanted what was best for his children and he wanted them to be happy.
“Ron and Julie were basically second parents to me,” said Cooper-Risser. “I can’t think of a time when he wasn’t picking on us or making us laugh.”
“He worked hard and he was good at everything he touched,” said Cooper-Risser. It was rare to find Ron without a smile on his face or just enjoying life.
She added the family now faces some financial strain and a GoFundMe page has been set up by a friend of the family to assist with medical bills and funeral expenses.
Memorial services are being held Oct. 28 at 11 a.m. at Nashville Church of Christ.
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