May 29, 1921 – December 6, 2011
The Pilates world lost a great Elder yesterday! Ron Fletcher was an amazing man and visionary teacher. I feel so blessed to have been in several of his workshops, and listened to him share his life stories, experiences, and words of wisdom. Below is obituary info that I received from Kyria Sabin, fletcherpilates.com, one of Ron’s dear friends and teachers. Please enjoy celebrating Ron Fletcher’s life and death with a prayer and blessing! His work and life’s passion will live on in the amazing teachers he has mentored.
The Pilates world lost one of its great visionaries with the passing of
Born in 1921, in tiny Dogtown on the Missouri-Arkansas border, from the very beginning Ron’s sights were set on the far horizon. Late in his teens, with little formal education and nothing more than a few dollars, a beat-up suitcase and a heart full of dreams, he left the rural south for the lights – and the promise – of New York City.
At first, he found work writing ad copy and taking odd jobs. But a chance attendance at a Martha Graham dance concert changed his life’s trajectory and led him to the first of his major callings – dance. With zero formal dance training, but with equal parts certainty, confidence and determination, Ron was able to persuade the indomitable Martha Graham to accept him into her dance company. Working with her – and later with the great visionary choreographer, Yeichi Nimura – Ron found two of the major creative influences in his life. During this period, a nagging knee injury led him to the third – Joseph and Clara Pilates.
Through an illustrious 30-year professional career at the highest levels of the entertainment industry, which included choreography for major Broadway productions, Hollywood movies, the International Ice Capades and nightclubs and cabarets from Chicago to Paris to New Orleans, Ron’s work with Joseph and Clara Pilates was a constant to which he returned year after year. Through the travails and vicissitudes of the entertainment industry, as well as through the intense personal challenges of alcoholism, Ron Fletcher continued to work with and learn from the Pilateses. They were his teachers and mentors and he their disciple and protege. From 1968 to 1971 – following Joseph Pilates’ death – Ron studied with Clara Pilates as he began to forge the idea that would engage him for the rest of his life – the development, evolution and dissemination of the Pilates method.
In 1971, in a move largely credited with preserving Pilates for the world to experience, Ron opened the first Pilates studio on the west coast, in Beverly Hills, California. Once there, he was hailed by the local and national press as a fitness guru and the publicity he received upon opening his studio was nothing short of phenomenal. In 1978, he published his now-famous book, “Every Body is Beautiful” to rave reviews. And, as Clara Pilates had encouraged him to do, he continued to develop the Pilates method, incorporating into it revolutionary concepts and techniques such as Percussive Breathing, Fletcher Towelwork, Floorwork and Barrework.
In 2003, Ron authorized and endorsed The Ron Fletcher Program of Study, a comprehensive curriculum and school developed to disseminate his unique vision of the Pilates method. The Program of Study received formal state licensure in 2007 and is currently taught at 5 campuses in the United States, as well as in 8 countries around the world.
Ron Fletcher was a generous and spirited teacher, a hands-on mentor, a gifted soul with the heart of a lion, and a master teacher uniquely guided by the graces of his divine higher power. As he was loved by others, so too did he love deeply in return. His clear blue eyes never ceased to twinkle, his sharp mind never failed him and he was alert and articulate to the very end. We who knew and loved him best will miss him deeply and we wish him godspeed and good graces on the side to which he now has passed.
A memorial service is planned for May 5, 2012 in Tucson, Arizona. Per Ron’s request, donations can be made, in his memory, to your favorite animal charity or cause.
Photo by Dan Borris