An 84-year-old was struck and killed on Hilton Head. Here’s how he’ll be remembered
Ron Titus left a note on the kitchen table for his wife, Donna, on the morning of Dec. 29.
“Gone for a walk. 7:45 a.m.,” he wrote.
Then, as he often did, he headed out of his home near Hilton Head High School, toward Jarvis Creek Park. It was a peaceful destination he visited frequently on his morning walks.
But the beloved senior never came home.
Titus, 84, was struck and killed as he was crossing U.S. 278 on Wilborn Road near Jarvis Creek Park, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol.
The collision happened at 8:07 a.m. when Titus was hit by a 22-year-old Bluffton woman who was driving a 2016 GMC pickup truck, according to S.C. Highway Patrol community relations officer Matt Southern.
Titus’ daughter, Ellen Titus, described her father as someone who “created a community around himself” wherever he lived.
Since his death, Ellen Titus said she has received calls from all over the country from people whose lives were touched by her father’s ability to “turn everything into a laugh.”
Ron and Donna Titus moved to Hilton Head Island 10 years ago from New Hampshire. Before he retired, Ron Titus worked for the Boy Scouts of America as an assistant council executive in the organization.
Those around him said he gave “the most amazing hugs.”
The driver of the vehicle that hit him is not facing any charges because she had the right of way, Southern said. This could mean that she had a green light heading eastbound on U.S. 278.
Witnesses told Ellen Titus that the collision was “unavoidable.”
She and her sister Ann Harrison were on the scene shortly after the collision. Ellen Titus said she hugged the young woman and told her that the family forgave her.
“My dad would hate that if there was this young girl (who) had to live with that,” Ellen Titus said. “She didn’t see him coming.”
Ron Titus is survived by his wife of 63 years, Donna Titus; four children, Ann (Peter Kandis), Ellen (David Inserra), Kate and John; younger sister, Donna; six grandchildren ranging in age from 2 to 31 and a group of dear friends at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Lowcountry, the Bluffton church he and Donna attended.
Ron Titus was an avid bird and outdoor photographer, and he showcased his majestic shots in the sanctuary of the church. He was a lifelong Red Sox and Celtics fan, and Ellen Titus said he made a point to do the crossword puzzle in The Island Packet every day.
The evening before his death, the couple celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary. Donna Titus said she cooked her husband’s favorite meal, a Thanksgiving-style turkey, and lit a fire in the fireplace.
“He didn’t know that it would be his last meal,” Harrison said of her father’s anniversary dinner.
Friends from church said they stopped by to wish the couple well on Friday night.
Two days later, when the congregation reflected on Ron Titus’ life, one friend said he had such a good evening before, “he may very well have been skipping across the street” on the morning of the collision.
His daughters say they can only speculate what happened as the sun was rising over Hilton Head during their father’s walk. He was hard of hearing most of his life, and Ellen Titus said “we can only hope that he didn’t hear (the car coming) or see it.”
This is the second death of a pedestrian on U.S. 278 in 2018, according to traffic engineer for the Town of Hilton Head Island, Darrin Shoemaker.
In June, Charli Bobinchuck, 11, was struck and killed in the crosswalk outside of Yacht Cove, about six miles down the road from where Ron was hit.
Her parents, Bryan and Daisy, have advocated for lighting at crosswalks on the island, and operate a charity in her memory.
The stretches of road where Charli and Ron Titus were killed have a speed limit of 45 mph, but drivers frequently speed in that area, according to past collision reports.
“So many accidents happen on (U.S.) 278, and the more people that know about it the more likely it is that there can be a change,” Ellen Titus said.
The family said they want to honor Ron Titus by practicing grace, kindness and sincerity toward others.
For months before his unexpected death, Titus’ family said he was working on a genealogy for a new member of their family — son John Titus’ girlfriend, Adrie Glass.
Ellen Titus said her father had a passion for history, and researched Glass’ family, successfully tracing her lineage back several generations.
On her birthday on Jan. 1, the Titus family presented Glass with the finished detailed history of her family — the final touches were completed by Titus’ son-in-law, David Inserra.
“(Ron) spent three months doing that for her,” Ellen Titus said. “That was the last gift he gave anybody.”
A memorial service for Ron Titus will be at 2 p.m. Jan. 19 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Lowcountry, 110 Malphrus Road in Bluffton.