Ronald Andrew Katchuk was born to a father with a strong work ethic and a business minded mother. From his Father and Grandpa Moore, he learned to hunt and fish. He often would retell the story of receiving his first 22 Rifle from his Grandpa Moore at a young age. Growing up he enjoyed hunting with his brother and this became a lifelong passion.
Ron learned to be business savvy at a young age from his Mother. He was a collector of many things but at the top of his list were antiques and Corvettes. Starting a corporate job at a young age; he soon found working for others wasn’t for him. He decided to pursue his passion of buying and selling antiques and turned it into a life-long career. His knowledge of antiques, hard work, and his talent for sales led him to always succeed. Ron was known for making friends everywhere he went, willing to offer a helping hand, and would never show up to visit without a gift.
In the early 1990s, Ron took a drive to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This visit would forever change his life and was the beginning of a whole new chapter. During this visit, he embraced the surrounding history, antiques, and military armaments, Ron discovered a new passion. He immersed himself in everything that was Civil War related. Ron would frequently make the drive from his home in upstate New York to Gettysburg, just to stoke his fire with history, his oxygen and antiques his fuel Gettysburg burned deep through his heart and veins. He enjoyed being a part of everything that Gettysburg had to offer from stores, museums, battlefields, Visitors Center, restaurants, reenactments, and the anniversary of the Battle at Gettysburg.
One could only imagine his joy to find that the movie Gettysburg was being filmed in that small country town. Ron enjoyed going to the battlefields to witness this historic event in our nation’s history being recreated. For him, it transported him back to what it would have been like during those long hot July days. The summer heat, only cooled when he was mistaken for Sam Elliot by some tourists, truly an undeniably joyous moment in his life. Ron’s blue eyes twinkled just a bit more and his smile grew wider than the sunset over the hill tops. He was always very appreciative during these moments, and it often was the stepping stone for a friendly chat with strangers.
Around this time, Ron decided to make a permanent move to Gettysburg. He found a charming pre-Civil War farmhouse on twenty acres. He was always proud to tell people that the troops had marched right by his front door. Sometimes you could find him in his field with his metal detector looking for minie balls and other artifacts. Ron’s joy bread more success, growing his business of selling reproduction and antique furniture right inside his old barn. This allowed his passion to burn hotter by adding to his Civil War Collection. That collection would grow to include swords, rifles, pistols, instruments, uniforms, flags, tintype portraits, and many items from long ago. Ron’s knowledge and collection continued to grow, fueling him to learn more about his beloved Gettysburg. Many of his evenings were concluded by reading dozens of books about the war. Books that are part of his connection to the Civil War.
Over the years, the knowledge that he gained from tour guides, friends, books, conversations with experts, and just being out in the National Park would transform him into a great battlefield tour guide. Many of his friends and family members were lucky enough to have a tour through the battlefields with Ron. Countless friends have told his daughters how much they enjoyed these exclusive tours of the battlefields and that they will treasure those special moments with him. He would often visit his favorite spots including; Cemetery Ridge, Little Round Top, and Devil’s Den. One of his favorite activities was to drive his 1962 Chevrolet Corvette up to Devil’s Den and just walk the sacred ground just before sunset. He always said that it was a golden time to be there.
With Gettysburg his fire, Ron’s passion to learn more led him to other places. Antietam and Harpers Ferry did just that. His visits to Harpers Ferry taught him even more about armaments and how they were used during the Civil War. From this point on, he began to create an extensive collection of rifles that he was happy to show off to anyone with an interest.
In 2011, Ron was approached by The American Pickers to be featured on the episode called, Civil War Pickings. Mike and Frank were looking for hard to find Civil War items for The Gettysburg Museum. Well, they couldn’t have found a more perfect person to educate them about the Civil War. Ron loved sharing his collection with them. His only regret in appearing on the show was that he actually had to sell items from his prized collection. He hated to part with the Hardee Hat and Union uniform. On the night of the cast party at The Gettysburg Hotel, he was so thrilled to be a part of something that had started because of a trip to Gettysburg many years ago. Plus, he loved the attention. After appearing on the show, Ron was thrilled to be recognized by fans of the show. His daughter recalls being with him in Gettysburg a few years after the show aired as they were crossing the street, a young man started to yell at Ron to get his attention. The man just wanted to ask if he had been on The American Pickers. Ron was always looking to have a great day and that young man surely made it one. This would be Ron’s last visit to Gettysburg, but it was made more special for my Dad by a stranger just taking the time to tell him that he recognized him and that it was nice to meet him.
Over time Ron would go on to collect over 100 rifles, dozens of swords, and too many other Civil War artifacts to count. His family hopes that each piece finds a home that values our Nation’s history as much as Ron did.