Jeweler and Community Activist
Everything Ron George does, he does out of a basic love for mankind. He loves being a one-store jeweler on Main Street because he gets to know the families of the people who come in.“We do custom design work which means people will often bring in a piece when their loved one has passed away and ask that we turn it into a keepsake that they themselves can wear,” he says. “We get to hear their stories and we get to know them.”
He loves being the director of the Conquest Boys Club, which teaches leadership, skills and virtues to boys age 10 to 14, because he likes being a mentor to those who otherwise might not have one.
And, much to his surprise, he loves campaigning for the House of Delegates District 30 seat, which is up for election next year. He had turned down requests in the past that he run for fear that it would take time away from his wife and their six children, ages 3 to 23. But recently, his family became his biggest supporters.
“So there went that excuse,” he jokes. “But truthfully, I have been thinking about political office most of my life. I want my children and their children to have a chance to achieve the American dream and I think that’s getting harder these days.”
Ron discovered his desire to be an advocate for his fellow man just after graduating from Syracuse University while working as an actor in New York City.
“I had had some success performing in theatres and landing small parts in soap operas, but it was hard to be happy about it when I kept seeing the young homeless people on the streets who were either runaways or were pushed out the door.” Ron began volunteering as a counselor at an emergency shelter called the Covenant House for homeless people who are less than 21 years old.
“I saw many children come from homes that the government had tried to help with money but did nothing to reinforce family life,” says Ron, who came from large family of seven children. “Unwed mothers received more money with each child and a single mother received more money than a married couple. I realized that government, in its effort to help without concern for values, often hurts society in other areas of faith, family and individual freedom.”
He worked as an actor and volunteered for three years before he met a “beautiful ballerina” named Becky Skinner and decided to move out of the city and return to being a jeweler, a trade he had learned right after high school and before college.
“I always told myself that when I met the person I wanted to settle down with, I would get out of the acting profession,” Ron says. “It’s no place to raise a family.”
Ron had grown up in Howard County but spent his summer weekends in the Annapolis area cruising around with his family in a 32-foot cabin cruiser. “We had seven siblings on that boat so we had to learn how to get along,” he says. When he and Becky decided to leave New York City, Ron suggested they move to the city he had grown so fond of as a child. Quickly, the couple became involved in the Annapolis community and their church. To support themselves, Ron did jewelry design and repair for several different jewelers and worked as a waiter while Becky taught dance. Their hard work paid off, ultimately affording them the ability to buy their first home and open Ron George Jewelry Repair and Design in 1987 and the retail store Ron George Jewelers, Inc., at 205 Main Street in 1991.
Ron attended jeweler’s trade school after high school, which followed the footsteps of his grandfather, a watchmaker and jeweler. “My dad was a defense and space contractor for Johns Hopkins University and I saw how stressed he was trying to make the various deadlines all the time,” Ron remembers. “Then I looked at my grandparents and they were just so happy being their own boss.”
While running the store, Ron and his family became even more involved in the community by donating their time and skills to numerous nonprofit organizations and schools. Ultimately, however, Ron became concerned about the lack of quality time he was spending with his six children.
That’s when he and Becky decided to try home schooling. “You can get all of the schooling you need to do for the day done in two hours and then you have the rest of the day to spend with your children doing other interesting stuff,” he says.
When they started the home schooling, there was only one other family doing it with them. Now there are so many, he says, they have had to split the teaching sessions into three separate groups to ensure the individual attention they were seeking in the first place.
“Many in society and in government questioned this basic right of parents to be the teachers of their children, so we began a support group in 1989,” Ron says. “I believe its growth had more to do with the lack of values being taught in schools that with anything else.
In 1996, he took his community activism one step further and became director of the Conquest Boys Club serving as a mentor to boys age 10 to 14 years old, including his four sons. Today, he volunteers as director of the Springhill Center for Family Development, a Crownsville organization that offers youth programs, marriage enrichment programs, engaged couple programs, and counseling services for families and individuals. To enable him to do his job better, he recently completed his Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from the Institute for Clinical Sciences in Arlington, Va.
“I think the degree will definitely assist me in my volunteer work but I don’t think I would ever enter practice,” he says.
His latest business adventure was the purchase of the State House Inn in 2002. He made the purchase with plans to move his business there, however when those plans fell through he decided to keep it going as an inn, despite its history of struggling in the past. After three years of hard work—and an “excellent innkeeper” Dan Cropley—the Inn is alive and well.
His efforts over the years to balance his family, his business and his volunteer work in the community were recognized last year when the Annapolis Republican Central Committee presented him with the Ronald Reagan Award.
“I am definitely a multi-tasker,” he says, a bit shyly. “People who know me from one part of my life have no idea about all the rest.”