Ronald B. Sladon, who helped guide Calumet Farm during the Lexington nursery's troubled times in the early 1990s, died Jan. 14 of complications from cancer in Daytona Beach, Fla. He was 78.
An attorney, Sladon started with historic Calumet in April 1991 upon the urging of Central Kentucky horseman John T. Ward Jr. The latter became president after the resignation of J.T. Lundy, whose dealings propelled the farm into bankruptcy.
In his role of secretary/treasurer and chief spokesman, Sladon helped guide the farm through bankruptcy proceedings, the dispersal of most of its horses, and the farm's sale in early spring of 1992 to Henryk de Kwiatkowski.
"The most satisfying part of my job was the ending," said Sladon. "It was a triumphant moment to see the farm go with dignity. Mr. de Kwiatkowski was exactly what Calumet needed--someone with the means, the enthusiasm, and the romance."
De Kwiatkowski died in 2003. His family now runs the farm.
Sladon's honesty with the media during his time with Calumet was recognized in a big way. Sladon received the Ambassador of Racing Award from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Media in 1992.
A New York native who moved to Florida as a teenager, Sladon relocated to Central Kentucky in 1984 from the Chicago area, where he headed his family's Chicago Rubber Co. He and his wife, Carol, operated Tantara Farm in Clark County, Ky., from 1984 to 2000.
Sladon, who served in the Air Force, returned to Florida in 2004 and was a lawyer in the Florida Department of Transportation. He left that job in the summer of 2007.
In addition to his wife, Sladon's survivors include five sons and daughters.