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“Ronnie’s Transmission Legacy: A Timeless Impact on Rhode Island Ave NE, DC”


1800 Rhode Island Ave, NE

Thanks to Aaron for sharing:

Ronnie, the proprietor of Ronnie’s Transmission on Rhode Island Ave NE, DC, recently passed away. A skilled technician and a cornerstone of the neighborhood for decades, Ronnie not only excelled in his small business but also served as a repository of local oral history and a trusted friend to neighbors for decades.

Ronnie’s impact on me and everyone fortunate enough to have crossed paths with him was immense. Working tirelessly in his namesake small business, he was not just a skilled technician underneath his hydraulic lift or inside one of his interior garages; he was a cornerstone of the neighborhood on US Route 1. In his front office, Ronnie thrived professionally and also served as a carrier of local oral history and a trusted friend to the NE D.C. community for decades.

Almost every day, except for his one day off on Sundays, Ronnie would take notice of friends and neighbors passing by.

He would insist on taking a break to welcome them into his office. Offering a cup of coffee, he’d clear off a spare chair and take his place behind what I always considered his presidential desk. With a warm smile and the lighting of a cigarette, Ronnie would genuinely engage in conversations spanning the neighborhood’s cultural history, people, important events, everyday life on Rhode Island Ave NE, and even discussions on global affairs. His sincere interest in others and willingness to share about his own family made every interaction special.

Ronnie’s ability to mechanically fix anything was undeniable. Though specializing in transmissions, he had a talent for engineering solutions, to what seemed to me, any problem. Despite being situated in an aging faded-yellow car garage, stepping into his small office always felt like entering the realm of an inventor or a mechanical scientist. I often joked with him about crafting a time machine behind his office doors, and his smile left me questioning whether he actually might be.

For these reasons years ago, I chose to paint a time machine scene—the DeLorean from Back to the Future—on his exterior garage door. It was a small tribute to a man who seemed capable of transcending the ordinary, turning even a transmission shop into a space where possibilities felt endless.

Ronnie’s memory will endure in the hearts of all those fortunate enough to have known him, including the writer, who will forever cherish the warmth, wisdom, and sense of possibility that Ronnie brought to the Rhode Island Ave NE community.”

Ed. Note: Ronnie’s daughter has taken over the shop!!

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