Niagara Gazette — Ronda Koban-Sortore had hoped to leave some videos for her kids. But, there simply wasn't enough time.
Though she had been ill for years, first with a brain aneurism, then a battle with cancer, which after five years returned with a vengeance, she died rather unexpectedly on Friday. So, Andrea, 12, and Zachary, 17, won't have videos with personalized messages from their mom. But, what they will have is a legion of their mother's friends and family so devoted and so stunning in size, that the siblings will likely be supported their whole lives by a web of love their mother created.
I never met Ronda. I was supposed to go to her house to interview her when I wrote a story about a fundraiser planned for her last February, but she wasn't up to a visit. The event was a few days later, and organizers had not expected the largest outpouring of affection and concern any of them had ever experienced. They'd hoped for 100 or so baskets to raffle and 300 came in. I'm told the Lewiston-Porter High School cafeteria was mobbed the day of the event.
I did talk to Ronda on the phone and she was charming and deeply honest, just like everyone said. So, I have a fairly clear picture of this remarkable woman, who friends said didn't like to be seen without one of her many wigs perfectly combed and makeup done just so, who always kissed everyone hello and goodbye, and who made people feel blessed to know her.
Co-owner of the Niagara Street restaurant Koban's, which her dad opened years ago with her mom and her sister, Ronda also worked for a time at a firemen's credit union and in the Town of Lewiston courts. Between her jobs and the friends she made through her children's schools and hobbies, she knew people from all walks of life.